WATCH: Hawaii Man Surfs Drainage Canal 'Like Ninja Turtles' After Record Rainfall
As Hurricane Lane approached Hawaii's big island, it dumped record amounts of rain on the city of Hilo, on the island's eastern coast, causing flooding, landslides, and damage to homes.
But as all that water began draining out to sea, it also created the perfect conditions for Shawn Pila to grab his surfboard and jump into the concrete drainage canal near his home.
When it rains hard, Pila said, the torrential flow interacts with the shape of the canal to create a standing wave, "and we found out that we could surf it, so when it rains like this we're surfing the trench like Ninja Turtles."
Pila said the wave he rode on Saturday was the largest he'd ever surfed in the canal. The perils are many: the river carries logs and debris; after a fall, it's easy to get carried out to sea; and then there are the police, who threatened to arrest him.
"They're just doing their job," Pila said after a police officer made him get out. But he's been surfing that little wave during hard rain for almost 20 years, and said he doesn't plan to stop now.
Watch Pila surfing here:
Copyright 2020 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.