Counties across the state are preparing for heavy rain, which is expected to begin late Saturday. Hawaii Island will be the first to see the effects of Wali.
There is increased concern for flooding as Hawaii County Civil Defense officials say parts of the island are already saturated by earlier rain.
“The public works department has been going out since Monday and looking at all the drainage areas and identifying those problem areas and clearing out any debris or vegetation that might pose additional problems to the run-off,” said Darryl Oliveira, Hawaii County Civil Defense director.
Officials are also working to keep the public informed.
“Of concern this weekend for the Hilo area and Windward side is we do have large events taking place, public events. There are a lot of activities down there,” Oliveira said. “It’s just keeping the event organizers informed of the system as it’s approaching so they can make adjustments to their plans and keep the participants down there aware.”
One thing many people think about when there’s the threat of bad weather: Will there be power and water when I need it?
The answer is yes. Major utilities have had their emergency response plans long before Wali was a gleam in the eye of weather forecasters. They all needed to have plans in place by June 1, the start of the hurricane season in Hawaii.
As for major outdoor events planned for Honolulu this weekend, the plan, for now at least, is for the show to go on.
At Honolulu Hale Friday, dozens of people from Hawaii, Asia and the U.S. mainland converged at the mayor’s office to see the signing of the proclamation declaring this Sunday as Ukulele Festival Day in Hawaii.
Organizer and festival founder Roy Sakuma was asked by Mayor Kirk Caldwell and KHON2 News whether he had contingency plans for the festival, which Sakuma says will attract up to 10,000 people.
“Yes, people have been asking us if we have a contingency plan,” said Sakuma. “But the thing is, we have so many people, so many vendors that are being set up, it’s impossible to move it somewhere else.”
In Kailua, the plan is simple. Hurry up and complete the job. The sewer line that broke last week carved out a sink hole and work crews are hoping to complete repairs by this weekend, before the rain comes.
KHON2 asked whether the rain could make the sinkhole at the intersection of Hamakua Drive and Kailua Road even bigger.
“No, no. It’s pretty well shored with the concrete and the grouting surrounding the pipe,” said Mark Yonamine, acting director for the city’s Department of Design and Construction. “It will be pretty secure.”
Utilities like Hawaiian Electric, the Board of Water Supply and Hawaiian Telcom have had their eyes on Wali when it first became a threat and crews and supplies are ready to take on any emergency.
“We’re also taking stock of our resources, assessing our personnel and our staffing and checking our resources to make sure we are prepared to respond to outages and other problems if they develop as a result of this storm,” said Darren Pai, spokesperson for Hawaiian Electric Company.
City personnel are on standby in case the mayor activates the Emergency Operations Center. The advice is to stay alert and stay tuned.
“Increase your monitoring of TV reports and radio stations,” said John Cummings, public information officer for the city Department of Emergency Management. “We are also doing a lot of messaging through social media and through Nixle to get information out to our residents.”
Organizers of another major outdoor annual event, the Prince Lot Hula Festival, scheduled for Saturday, is still set to go on. That festival will run from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. at Moanalua Gardens.
On Maui, crews are checking drainage ways for obstructions and pumps being deployed in areas where flooding occurs regularly. Vehicle and backup generators are fully fueled and loose items have been secured, officials say.
Maui Police Department command staff and Department of Fire and Public Safety operations are all standing by in case of possible flooding or other storm emergencies.
Experts say now is a good time to prepare your hurricane kit, and stock it with supplies like batteries, flashlights, generators and bottled water.
“You don’t want to wait until the hurricane is coming,” said Frank Suster, safety and facilities manager at City Mill. “Precut sheets of plywood, you know about the size a little bit larger than your windows, and you can just with a duplex nail, double-headed nail, just nail them over your windows. A lot of people they just put tape. They put masking tape on their windows. That does no good.”
“This is the first tropical storm to enter the Hawaiian waters, so kind of take it as a wake-up call,” said Shelly Kunishige with Hawaii Emergency Management Agency. “This is the time to make sure you have all your stuff together. So this may not be something that will greatly impact you, but it’s always good to prepare.”