- Associated Press - Wednesday, October 22, 2014

HONOLULU (AP) - The largest amount of damage caused by Hurricane Ana as it passed Honolulu was underground, according to Mayor Kirk Caldwell.

Storm water Sunday flooded into one a critical sewage treatment plant and sent 20 million gallons of untreated sludge into tunnels and underground rooms, the Honolulu Star-Advertiser (https://bit.ly/1radm7R) reported.

“Before Ana left she left us a good kick in the butt,” Caldwell said before a tour of the plant. “The good news is there were no injuries to anyone.”

More than 100 workers and a dozen private contractors were at the plant Monday.

An estimated 5,000 gallons of raw sewage escaped manholes into Honolulu Harbor on Sunday morning. Workers afterward discovered flooding of effluent that reached 6 to 8 feet deep in tunnels.

The plant serves Honolulu’s urban core and normally processes 60 million to 70 million gallons of sewage daily.

Repairs could be done by end of the week, Caldwell said. He does not expect the price tag reach into the millions, he said.

Flooding began around 9 a.m. when the plant was overwhelmed for about 15 minutes by 240 million gallons of combined water and sewage. Normally, sewage flows into the plant through two “channels.” However, one is down for repair and the other could not handle the surge.

“One channel can only hold half of that, maybe 110 to 120 million gallons,” said Markus Owens, spokesman for the city’s Department of Environmental Services. “You just had too much coming.”

The overflow spilled into the channel under repair and down into concrete rooms and tunnels that house electrical panels.

At about 11 a.m., a stream of 130 million to 140 million gallons of sewage poured through the plant.

The storm also knocked out power to the Synagro Bioconversion Facility next door. The facility handles sludge solids.

Synagro had its power back by Monday afternoon and manually received sludge pumped out and transported form the treatment plant.

“This is the worst damage we’re going to see from Ana,” Caldwell said. “We definitely want to avoid this from happening in the future. The good news: It was all contained.”

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