Flooding in Hawaii Damages NTBG Gardens

On March 12, 2021, heavy rain caused flooding in Hawaii which affected all four of NTBG’s gardens in the state. For both Limahuli and Kahanu Gardens, the amount of rain was not unlike rain events that occur there on an infrequent basis, forcing the gardens’ closure but not creating significant damage. At Limahuli, the enhanced infrastructure installed after the 2018 flood functioned exactly as designed to divert water in a deliberate and calculated fashion.

However, for McBryde and Allerton Gardens on the South Shore of Kauai, the rain caused the worst flood event in more than 40 years. The Lawai Stream rose quickly and flowed swiftly, clogging every culvert with large trees and boulders. Water encroached into areas that had never experienced this type of deluge, including Big Valley and the Thanksgiving Room in Allerton Garden. Trees fell, sculptures and benches were displaced, and the Allerton footbridge was completely demolished and washed onto the beach.

This recent flooding in Hawaii tells us we cannot deny climate change any more than we can deny plant extinction. In the midst of uncertainty, we remain focused on our strategic priorities and embrace our mission of discovery, scientific research, and conservation of tropical plants and ecosystems.

Allerton Garden

Thanksgiving Room

The Thanksgiving Room in Allerton Garden sustained some of the worst damage out of Robert and John’s main garden rooms. Statues were knocked off of their pedestals and the fountain was filled with mud. Ginger in and surrounding the room had to be completely removed due to damage and the gazebo saw structural damage.


The iconic footbridge at Lawai Kai was knocked loose during the flood and is now resting in the bay, completely demolished.

Downed Trees and Debris

Along Lawai Stream, trees are down and debris has gathered along Lawai Kai beach. Garden Director Tobias Koehler poses next to a Monkeypod tree that was uprooted on the westside of Allerton Garden.

McBryde Garden

Eddie’s Crossing

Stream crossings were underwater for several hours and large trees and boulders clogged every culvert.

Hawaiian Life Canoe Garden

CEO and Director Janet Mayfield poses next to a tree pulled out of the stream near the canoe garden stream crossing.

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