To kick off hurricane season, state, city and community groups conducted several full-scale hurricane shelter exercises across Oahu.
One of the main purposes of the exercise was to encourage each family and each community to take responsibility to make a plan of action unique to their needs.
Every community has it’s own challenges. For example, in Nanakuli, there’s really only one way in and one way out.
In the past, when residents have been asked to evacuate the Waianae coast, it has created traffic havoc along Farrington Highway.
“The last time we got evacuated, one lane out was gridlock. It took me over an hour and a half to get from Waianae to Nanakuli,” recalled Carol Tamura, a Waianae resident.
And one of the alternate routes out of the west side, Kolekole pass has been closed since 2011 when heavy rains washed out a bridge.
KHON2 learned that the bridge was recently repaired. So now the only thing keeping it closed is government red tape.
“Were working through the process with local community, city and county and military to make sure it’s open when it needs to be open,” state Civil Defense Vice Director Doug Mayne said.
Top officials say residents shouldn’t rely on it.
“I think getting out of the area may not even be an option,” State Adjutant General Major General Darryll Wong said.
“We know though the roads are going to be crowded. The biggest thing is we want folks to be aware of where the shelters are located on the island,” city Department of Emergency Management public information officer John Cummings said.
That’s why drills like this one at Nanakuli Intermediate and High School are vital to make sure the various organizations and community is prepared if worse comes to worse.
Saturday they practiced organizing evacuees, making sure people who needed medical attention could get treated. Even pets had a special place to stay thanks to Hawaiian Humane Society volunteers.
Although these shelters are designed to provide a roof over your head and are equipped to provide some medical attention , they want to remind everyone that the rest is up to you.
“Every family has to be prepared for 7 days and know that you need to bring all those items with you to the shelter,” Maria Lutz of the American Red Cross said.
Here are some things to pack in case of an emergency:
- Enough food and water for seven days that includes baby and pet supplies.
- It’s also recommended you have a portable radio, flashlight and extra batteries.
- Don’t forget any medications you might need along with first aid supplies.
- With the power likely out,you should carry extra cash along with any important documents like personal identifications and copies of insurance cards.
Click here for a complete checklist of things that should be in your Emergency Kit, provided by FEMA.
Click here for a list of hurricane shelters nearest you.
For more information on the city Department of Emergency’s disaster preparedness website, log onto www.getreadyhawaii.org.
For more information on the state Civil Defense emergency preparedness site, log onto www.scd.hawaii.gov/preparedness.html
To learn more about how you can help the American Red Cross Hawaii chapter log onto www.redcross.org/support
We will also continue following up with federal and state officials to find out exactly when they will develop a plan to open Kolekole Pass during emergencies.