It’s been almost a year since Iselle hit the Big Island as a tropical storm.
It caused an estimated $79 million in damage, according to Hawaii County Civil Defense.
The storm ripped through agriculture land, damaging crops and leaving residents with a big mess to clean up, and taught emergency officials some important lessons.
Darryl Oliveira of Hawaii Civil Defense said after Iselle, officials learned that keeping the community informed is key, especially for those living in isolated areas.
Now, a year later, officials are tracking Guillermo and making sure the community receives emergency notifications.
“Prior to actual impact, as part of some of the initial steps, the fire department, civil air patrol and some of our other partners would be flying the coast line. We have a lot of remote areas that are utilized heavily for recreation purposes as well as remote communities that may not be in the radio reception,” he said.
The plan includes notifying residents to move to higher ground, and being prepared for impact.
“It’s prepping their staff and employees and making sure public works, state highway crews, their equipment that would be used for road clearing, is prestaged in anticipation of where impact may occur,” Oliveira said.
Hawaiian Telcom says its teams are on alert and ready to start testing satellite phones and generators, and securing loose objects on Hawaiian Telcom properties.
Hawaiian Electric is also monitoring the storm, identifying available materials and checking with local contractors to see if they can support emergency response efforts.
So far, they have spent $3.2 million this year trimming trees, including Albizias on the Big Island, that could possibly affect transmission and distribution lines.
The Hawaii Chapter of the American Red Cross says it has already reached out to 900 volunteers all over the islands to see who can step up to help.
Maria Lutz said “working in Puna was a very interesting experience, very eye-opening. It was hard to find all the residences that were affected, so getting good maps of the area is really critical.”
On Oahu, city crews cleaned up streams in early July to prevent flooding in preparation for possible heavy rains from other tropical storms.