A Coast Guard HC-130 Hercules aircrew from Air Station Barbers Point successfully evacuated four U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service personnel off Johnston Atoll Monday prior to the arrival of heavy weather from Hurricane Walaka.
Hurricane Walaka is a dangerous Pacific storm and a threat to anyone in its path. Tropical storm conditions are expected to arrive early Tuesday morning and intensify to hurricane conditions by the afternoon.
“Johnston Atoll is extremely remote and difficult to reach. Our resources place us in a position to lend assistance to our partners with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and we are glad help,” said Capt. Robert Hendrickson, chief of response, Coast Guard 14th District. “We encourage anyone operating in the Pacific to keep an eye on the weather as this storm moves toward the Northwest Hawaiian Islands.”
Watchstanders at the Joint Response Coordination Center Honolulu received an evacuation request Monday at 12:30 p.m. from Fish and Wildlife.
While the storm is far removed from large population centers, it has become necessary to evacuate U.S. Fish and Wildlife personnel.
The four people evacuated are members of a field biology crew working out of a year-round field camp on the refuge.
“The safety of our staff and volunteers is always our primary concern,” said Laura Beauregard, acting Refuge and Monument Supervisor for the U. S. Fish and Wildlife Service. “We are grateful to our partners, U. S. Coast Guard, for their assistance getting our folks back to Honolulu from one of the most remote field camps in the Pacific.”
Johnston Atoll is one of the most isolated atolls in the world and is located in the central Pacific Ocean, between the Hawaiian Islands and the Line Islands.
The Johnston Atoll National Wildlife Refuge boundary currently includes the original Johnston Island and extends 12 miles from the shorelines. Johnston Atoll National Wildlife Refuge is within the Pacific Remote Islands Marine National Monument.