Flossie brings little relief to drought areas

Rancher says "rain was really a Band-Aid"

 UPDATED 6:59 AM HST Aug 09, 2013
HONOLULU -

Not much help and kind of a disappointment.

That's what drought-stricken farmers and ranchers are saying about last week's rain from Flossie.

In fact, extreme drought conditions remain in place for parts of Maui and the Big Island.

Flossie may have been fizzling, but it still packed a punch, bringing some much-needed summer rain, especially on Maui.

"Flossie did do us some help," said Jimmy Gomes, operations manager at Ulupalakua Ranch. "But like anything, this rain was really a Band-Aid."

Gomes said Flossie dumped anywhere from two to six inches of rain, but very little soaked into the ground.

Zack DePonte of nearby Triple L Ranch agrees.
"I mean our cattle right now, I'm looking down below in the fields and they're all happy they got a lot of grass," DePonte said. "But that's only going to last a week or two, maybe. If there's no more rain, the sun will just dry it all up and kill everything."

Triple L added a burger business last year, which DePonte said has helped business recently, even though conditions have been the worst in the family's three generations in Upcountry Maui.

"We've been all right," said DePonte. "We've barely been making it though. It's real hard out here."

In pictures: Flossie hits Hawaii
Campers voluntarily leave Keaukaha Beach ahead of storm
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Campers voluntarily leave Keaukaha Beach ahead of storm

Campers are voluntarily evacuating Keaukaha Beach.

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Campers voluntarily leave Keaukaha Beach ahead of storm

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Ulupalakua Ranch has been making it through by decreasing its herd population from 2,400 breeding cows to 1,400.

"We don't have a magic wand that we can raise, swat and say, 'Boom, we have rain,'" Gomes said. "You know, we've got to live with this or we need to work with it."

A six-year drought he said is the worst in 88 years of records, with yearly rainfall half of normal levels.

"We don't usually have rain in August, you know. It's, it's very unusual for us. August is the summer, which we don't have rain. Our rainy season usually starts, or our moisture usually starts in October through maybe February," said Gomes.

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