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Utahns stuck in Hawaii following historic island flash floods

KAUAI, Hawaii — Hawaii’s Garden Island, Kauai, is no stranger to rain, but the amount of rain the island received Sunday night was unprecedented. The storm left Sharon Olsen, a Bountiful resident, stuck, along with a group of college students from Utah State University.

“Very severe thunder and lightning — worse than I’ve ever experienced in my life, just very scary,” Olsen said.

Olsen is vacationing in Princeville, on the North Shore of Kauai, for her birthday. The north shore of the island was the hardest hit with crippling rain and floods. Olsen witnessed sinkholes, landslides, flash flooding, and saw Black Hawk helicopters delivering supplies Monday, she said.

The storms caused hundreds of evacuations, so Olsen decided to put herself to work, she said.

“I went down to the Red Cross shelter, which was at a local church. I was trying to help prepare food for people that were coming in, and we were told that there were going to be one or two busloads coming in,” Olsen said.

The flooding got worse, and the shelter ended up losing power and water. After they moved to a second location and opened a shelter, Olsen ran into a group of girls from Utah who were also willing to help, she said.

I call them my Utah home girls, five local LDS girls. We’re all Aggies. We all went to Utah State,” Olsen said, “(We) just met today and just pitched in just helping people.”

Olsen said it’s been a great experience meeting new people and spending her vacation serving others in need.

She said, “This is what life is all about.”

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