As Olivia approaches, Maui is still reeling from Hurricane Lane.
The storm’s strong winds helped fan two destructive fires, and rain also caused extensive damage in Haiku.
Maui County residents and visitors are in preparation mode. Concerns include vulnerable infrastructure, whether it’s low-lying highways prone to flooding, like Honoapiilani Highway, or the cargo port, every island’s lifeline.
The U.S. Coast Guard has triggered the pre-storm process that winds down activity toward a potential closure at Kahului Harbor in the coming days. All transfer of cargo has to stop when winds reach 40 mph.
As of Saturday morning, ports on Maui and Hawaii island are already under what’s called X-Ray status, which kicks in 48 hours ahead of storm landfall. Big ships have to make a departure plan and tell the Coast Guard.
At around 8 a.m. Monday, the next phase is expected, Yankee status, which means no coming or going without special permission, and inbound traffic will be discouraged.
Then depending on the storm’s forward speed, port condition Zulu, meaning closure, will kick in 12 hours ahead of gale force winds.
It was a busy day at Costco in Kahului as folks stocked up ahead of the storm and any cargo slowdown. Some told us they still had plenty of leftovers from Hurricane Hector, while others were starting from scratch.
There was also a long line for gas, though locals say not as bad as it was for Hector.
Tourists landing on Maui tell us many of them did not know a storm was on the way. They say they will have to adjust some plans, especially one family that was planning to do the road to Hana in the coming days.
As for other pre-storm impacts, the Pride of America cruise ship’s normal days in port on Maui will be done by the time the effects of the storm come through, so no Maui cruise visitor impacts are expected.
Emergency responders are gearing up for callbacks to work by any Tuesday or Wednesday impact, and airport security expects to ramp up to 12-hour shifts for several of the coming days.
The main hospital will roll out an emergency operations center, taking its cue from county disaster management, and would initiate staff callbacks as needed.
As for transportation concerns, the Lahaina bypass road is up high and set back from shore, but near Olowalu, even on a normal day, there’s seawater on the highway. That’s one of the many low-lying areas emergency officials will be keeping an eye on if storm surge worsens with the storm.