Hurricane shelter gets ready for the real thing

Tomorrow, June 1, marks the beginning of hurricane season here in the islands and volunteers were busy on Saturday preparing for the worst and hoping for the best.

Manoa Valley Church is just one of a number of locations around the island that could be used by families left homeless for an extended period of time.

On Saturday, the volunteers held a hurricane shelter exercise.

“Say that the hurricane has already passed,” said American Red Cross volunteer John Miller. “We have, right now, approximately 20 simulated residents that need shelter. Their homes are either destroyed or they can’t get to them and we are providing shelter and food for these residents for as long as necessary.”

Miller emphasized that this drill is a collaborative effort between the American Red Cross, church volunteers, the Medical Reserve Corps and others to make certain the bugs are worked out before an actual hurricane happens.

“We have ham radio operators that are conducting all our communications, because we are simulating that we do not have any landlines or mobile phone connectivity,” Miller said.

The amateur radio operators can reach clear around the world. There have been occasions when that was the only way to communicate.

Temporary shelters will be set up in the event of a hurricane or other disaster. But the one at the church is different.

“This is a long-term shelter,” coordinator Maria Lutz said, “so this is post-impact, meaning that, following a hurricane, if people cannot return to their homes, they may need to stay in a private shelter for a longer period of time, waiting for their homes to be rebuilt.”

The shelter will also provide sleeping areas with cots set up for singles, couples and families.

KHON2 News will do its part in getting Hawaii residents ready for the upcoming hurricane season, with the special “Surviving a Storm,” airing at 9 p.m. Wednesday, June 11.

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