Community Readiness for Potential Storm Impacts
***Jamilia Epping and Maui Now’s Wendy Osher contributed to this report.***
As the State of Hawai’i prepares for the potential impacts of Hurricane Ignacio and Hurricane Jimena, Governor David Ige signed an emergency proclamation Friday afternoon, activating the Major Disaster Fund set aside by the Legislature. The proclamation also eases access to both state and federal resources, should they be needed.
Agencies across the state, including local civil defense, the Hawai’i Emergency Management Agency, the American Red Cross, the United States Coast Guard, and additional partners have begun to prepare for potential impacts through the issuing of preparedness information and guides.
Keeping up with the storms:
Big Island Now will continue to bring you up to date coverage on all the latest in regards to Hurricanes Ignacio and Jimena.
Keep up to date by visiting the Big Island Now home page, weather section, and hurricane tracker, located on our home page, as well as the Big Island Now readiness guide.
As of Saturday morning, Hurricane Igancio was approaching Hawai’i slowly with potential impacts to be felt as early as Monday morning. Forecasts have the possibility of changing from advisory to advisory, so be sure to check the latest Big Island Now update for full details and information.
Potential Port Closures:
***This section was updated Sunday, Aug. 30 at 10:15 a.m. to include United States Coast Guard information.***
The United States Coast Guard, as of Sunday morning, does not expect to close any ports on the Big Island ahead of Hurricane Igancio.
***Original section posting was 10:57 a.m. on Saturday, Aug. 29.***
The potential arrival of storm force winds could facilitate the need to close commercial ports throughout the main Hawaiian Islands due to severe weather, according to the United States Coast Guard.
Both the Hilo port and the Kawaihae port have been place under Condition IV, also known as Condition Whiskey, meaning that winds above 39 miles per hour are expected with 72 hours.
Hurricane and Tropical Storm Preparedness Recommendations:
The Hawaiʻi Emergency Management Agency recommends residents and visitors take the following actions to prepare for any possible hurricane or tropical cyclone:
- Discuss plans with family members about what you plan to do if a hurricane or tropical storm threatens. Make an action plan, which should include details such as whether your family will shelter in place or evacuate to a shelter.
- Download the Ready Hawaiʻi app from the iTunes or Google Play! store. This app can aid in your emergency planning and will list shelters if they are opened for evacuation.
- Walk your property, checking for small outdoor items that could be picked up by high winds and check for potential flood threats. If time and conditions permit, clear your gutters and other drainage systems.
- Stay tuned to local media broadcast channels and follow the Department of Education online for the latest information on possible school closures. Make sure you know the closure notification procedure if your children attend a private or charter school.
- Set aside an emergency supply of any needed medication and keep a copy of your prescriptions in case you run out of medication after a disaster.
- Visitors should download and read the Hawaiʻi Tourism Authority’s Travel Safety Brochure. For visitor related information and a list of closures due to the weather, please visit the ‘Special Alert’ section of the HTA website.
Hawaiʻi Red Cross Volunteers and Supplies:
The Hawaiʻi Red Cross has been working throughout the week to contact hundreds of volunteers in preparation for Hurricanes Ignacio and Jimena. Organization leaders say they are ready to respond as needed. Red Cross logistics teams have already pre-positioned supplies, and volunteers are on standby for shelter, mental health, health work, damage assessment, case work, and logistics.
“We urge the public to take the time to prepare for the potential impacts of these storms,” said Coralie Chun Matayoshi, CEO of the Hawaiʻi Red Cross.
Hurricane Kits: What’s in Yours?
People in the potential path of the storms should check their disaster supplies and replace or restock as needed. Emergency preparedness kits should include:
- Enough supplies for at least seven days in case someone has to evacuate.
- Water (one gallon, per person, per day)
- Nonperishable food
- Flashlight, battery-powered or hand-crank radio, extra batteries
- First aid kit
- 7-day supply of medications
- Multi-purpose tool
- Sanitation and personal hygiene items
- Copies of important personal documents
You’ve packed your kit. What else should you do?
- Listen to a NOAA Weather Radio or local media outlets for critical information about the storm.
- Bring in anything that can be picked up by the wind.
- Fill your vehicle’s gas tank and get some extra cash.
- Close your windows, doors and hurricane shutters. If you don’t have shutters, close and board up all the windows with plywood.
- Turn your refrigerator and freezer to the coldest setting and keep them closed as much as possible.
- If you have propane, turn off the tank.
- Unplug small appliances.
- If you are ordered to evacuate, obey the order, avoiding flooded roads and washed out bridges.
For more information on what to do before, during, and after a tropical storm or hurricane, visit this Red Cross Hurricane Preparedness Info Page.
Coast Guard Urges Preparation
The public is advised to use extreme caution and prepare for the onset of heavy weather expected to generate extreme sea conditions, storm surge and high surf throughout the main Hawaiian Islands prior to the arrival of Hurricane Ignacio.
Visitors to Hawaiʻi should heed all warnings from lifeguards and public health and safety officials. Although weather conditions may be good, rip tides and high surf may impact beaches far in advance of the actual storm. Even the best swimmers can fall victim to the strong waves and currents caused by storms.
The Coast Guard offered the following tips:
- Swimmers are urged to stay clear of beaches until local officials say the water is safe. Local waters can also become contaminated due to runoff for several days following a storm.
- Mariners and beachgoers should monitor the progress and strength of the storms through the internet, local television, newspapers and radio stations. Boaters can monitor the progress of the storms on VHF channel 16. Small craft advisories and warnings are also broadcast on VHF channel 16.
- Additionally, mariners should secure their boats and boating equipment. Owners of large boats are urged to move their vessels to protected marinas where they will be less likely to break free of their moorings or to be otherwise damaged. It may be advisable for smaller boats to be pulled from the water and stored in a place that is not prone to flooding and is protected. Regardless of location, all loose items aboard vessels should be secured or removed.
The Coast Guard is working closely with local and state first responder agencies. Once the storm begins to impact the islands, emergency responders may not be able to immediately assist those in danger. The public is urged to heed all evacuation orders. Mariners should seek safe harbor and shelter.
Electrical Preparedness and Safety:
Hawai’i Electric Light urges customers to follow electrical safety as the busy hurricane season continues.
- Check emergency equipment, such as flashlights, emergency generators, battery-operated (hand-crank or solar) radios, light sticks, and lanterns, and buy extra batteries. Do not use candles.
- If someone in your home depends on an electrically powered life support system and you don’t have a backup generator, make plans in advance to go to a safe location where electricity will be available. Some shelters are designed for people with health needs—just remember to take your own medical equipment and medications.
- Turn your refrigerator/freezer to the coldest setting; in the event of a power outage, food will keep fresh longer.
- Stock an ice chest with ice or frozen ice packs.
- Store matches or a lighter in a waterproof container.
- For cooking, purchase butane, propane, or a canned heat stove and enough fuel for seven days, or a charcoal grill and charcoal. Do not use these units indoors.
- Properly secure propane tanks in a cool, dry, and well-ventilated storage area.
- Before a storm hits or if there is a power outage, unplug all unnecessary electric equipment and appliances until the storm has passed or until power is restored.
- Stay away from downed power lines. Assume they are energized and dangerous. If you see a downed power line or someone injured after touching a downed power line, call 9-1-1 for help.
- Should you need to evacuate, take emergency supplies and remember to shut off electricity at the main breaker or switch.
- When using a portable generator, carefully read and follow instructions in the manufacturer’s manual. Do not plug the generator into your household electrical outlets.
- If you have a rooftop photovoltaic system, consult with your licensed solar contractor regarding normal and emergency operation procedures for your solar system. As a safety precaution, most photovoltaic systems are designed to safely shut down during outages. PV systems typically have monitoring systems which allow owners to check on the status of their system.
- If you become trapped in an elevator during a power outage, relax and stay calm until help arrives. Use elevator emergency communication systems to report where you are and who is with you. Do not try to force open elevator doors. Never try to exit a stalled elevator car. Always wait for trained and qualified emergency personnel.