Hurricane Lane preparations underway on federal, state, county levels

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Federal, state, and county agencies are working together to ensure the community is safe and prepared ahead of Hurricane Lane.

Gov. David Ige has signed an emergency proclamation that positions state equipment, assets, and funds to support emergency response at the county levels. Click here to view the full proclamation.

“We encourage all the people across the state to pay attention for this storm. It is different. It’s not your typical hurricane that tracks south and goes away. We don’t know where this storm will hit. Everyone should be prepared,” Ige said.

The Federal Emergency Management Agency is proactively sending food, water, and emergency equipment to all counties, Ige noted, and the National Guard is on standby.

The Hawaii Department of Education says all public and charter schools and HIDOE offices on Hawaii Island and in Maui County will be closed Wednesday, Aug. 22, until further notice. All after-school activities on all islands have been canceled, and will likely remain canceled through next Monday. Click here for more information.

“We also stand ready to open shelters when asked to open shelters, and that’s one of our larger functions that we provide to the efforts here,” said Dann Carlson, Assistant Superintendent, Office of School Facilities and Support Services. “On behalf of the DOE, the health and safety of our students and administrators are obviously paramount and will continue to be so.”

Parents are encouraged to work with their child’s school to ensure they have the most up-to-date contact information for their household.

Officials are urging the public to be prepared with an emergency plan, and have at least two week’s worth of food, water, and supplies.

Residents are advised to shelter in place if they are not located in a flood zone. If you are in a flood zone, you should seek shelter elsewhere. Travis says there are not enough shelters to house everyone.

State and county officials are also working to ensure the state’s homeless population stays safe.

“We are working with each county to address homeless individuals and ensure that we can inform them and hopefully move them into safer conditions, especially those that are in low-lying and stream areas that might be more greatly impacted as the storm nears,” Ige said.

“Hurricane Lane is a very serious storm that has potential to do damage and cause harm, therefore we must be as prepared as we can,” said Tom Travis, Hawaii Emergency Management Agency administrator. “Some of the risks that will be involved with Lane include high winds, which can cause missile hazards and threat to structures, and tornadoes, lightning.

“One particular issue I would like to emphasize which is flooding. The forecast currently predicts surf 10 to 15 feet on the south shore with possible surf as high as 20 feet,” he added. “A surge of 4 feet, which you can imagine will take water far inland, causing debris deposit and damage to roads of particular concerns, ones that go along parallel to the coast that will cause problems with response and will require us to use our full range of assets to be sure we maintain communication and service between all of the communities.”

HI-EMA will activate its emergency operations center Tuesday night, according to Travis. Honolulu Mayor Kirk Caldwell says the city will activate its EOC at 6 a.m. Wednesday. The center will be manned 24/7 until Lane passes. 

“At 1:15 this afternoon, I signed an emergency proclamation that helps us work with the state of Hawaii and the governor’s proclamation to make sure that we are prepared and can move quickly if need be and avoid some of the bureaucratic tangles that would otherwise be involved in,” Caldwell said. “This Hurricane Lane is a dangerous storm. We’ve got to take it very seriously. We’re all working together at this point to make sure that we plan for the worst and hope for the best.”

Camping permits are no longer being issued for the weekend, and the city Department of Parks and Recreation will decide whether to revoke current permits so no one is camping in areas prone to danger.

City crews are also inspecting and clearing stream beds, clearing out areas that are prone to flooding. 

“We try to go to all the places where we have the worst flooding, but you can help us by calling up and saying there’s debris in an area that could block a bridge and cause major flooding,” Caldwell said, “and we ask those who are in areas where it’s flooded before that it could flood. We’re going to have a storm that’s moving very slowly. It dropped from about 13 mph to 9 mph in terms of movement, so it’s gonna hang over the islands longer if it continues that way.”

The Board of Water Supply is asking residents to use water for essential purposes only.

“The Board of Water Supply wants to make sure that every single reservoir and every single tank on this island is filled to capacity, because if we lose electricity, even though they have generators, it’s going to take longer and they want to make sure there’s water in these tanks so they don’t have to pump water into it,” Caldwell said.

The city is also working to prevent sewage spills, which have occurred in the past during major rain events.

Bus service may be adjusted or discontinued, as well as trash pickup. “We do not want those bins out on the road, blowing around in the strong wind,” Caldwell said.

Officials have yet to determine any closures of city facilities, such as Honolulu Zoo, municipal golf courses, parks, and scheduled events.

Residents are urged to stay out of the water, as conditions will become increasingly dangerous.

“We’re going to be working closely with Ocean Safety, because the waves are going to be huge. We know a lot of people that are going to want to go into the water that may not have the skill to handle the amount of surge and currents that move along with just the height of the waves itself,” Caldwell said.

If you have any questions, you can call the city’s emergency line at 768-CITY once the city’s EOC is activated Wednesday morning. You can also download the city’s mobile app, HNL.info, for the latest updates.

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