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Tourists back to paradise as Hawaii area recovers after storm

HONOLULU--Tourists in Oahu and other popular parts of Hawaii got back to their beach vacations and residents lined up to vote in primary elections Saturday, a day after Tropical Storm Iselle swept through the islands without causing a widespread disaster. But a large, rural swath of the Big Island has spent more than 24 hours without electricity and is struggling with downed trees blocking roads.

On the island of Kauai, rescuers found the body Saturday of a 19-year-old woman believed to have been swept away in a stream while hiking Friday in a closed state park during a tropical storm warning.

Iselle made landfall early Friday over the lower Puna region in the isolated southeastern part of the island, bringing down heavy rain, unleashing violent winds and toppling trees. The mostly agricultural area is as big as the island of Oahu and quickly growing because of affordable property, but it's nowhere near as populated as the tourist destination home to Waikiki Beach and Pearl Harbor.

Umbrellas, surfboards and kayaks were back Saturday at Waikiki Beach. It was damp and cloudy at the popular tourist spot, and rain was off and on throughout Honolulu, but people went about jogging, swimming and lying on the beach even as attention shifted toward Hurricane Julio. The storm was expected to pass roughly 255 kilometers northeast of the islands at its closest point early Sunday and linger near the state into Monday.

Back on the Big Island, Gene Lamkin used rain captured from the storm to wash his hair as he and thousands of others in the sparsely populated, jungle-like Puna region remained in the dark and unable to traverse roads blocked by toppled trees. Lamkin said life in the Puna, where unpaved roads of volcanic rock are not maintained by the county, means being prepared for the worst.

“We always have our shelves stocked with food and water,” he said from a cellphone he charged using a generator.

Hawaii County Civil Defense Director Darryl Oliveira worries there could be injured people rescuers can't reach.

Puna, which is home to about 40,000 people, had the bulk of the 9,200 customers still without power, according to Hawaii Electric Light Co. Outages could last through the weekend or longer, the utility said. At the height of the storm, about 25,000 customers lost electricity.

At a fire station Saturday, the county gave out water, tarps and ice, which is in short supply for those without power.

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