Emergency shelters and preparation tips for Tropical Storm Darby


Be storm-ready.

That’s the message from emergency officials in light of Tropical Storm Darby.

On Friday, Gov. David Ige signed a pre-landfall emergency proclamation, which authorizes the expenditure of state monies for quick, easy and efficient relief of disaster-related damages, losses and suffering resulting from the storm.

“Our top priority is to protect the health, safety and welfare of Hawaii’s residents and visitors. I urge residents and businesses to follow emergency instructions, prepare for the storm and take steps to protect your families, employees and property. The state is standing by to assist the counties — particularly Hawaii and Maui counties — which are expected to be the first to feel the impact of Tropical Storm Darby,” said Gov. Ige.

The disaster emergency relief period begins on July 22 and continues through July 29.

Residents and visitors should be aware of high surf warning conditions for east-facing shores, tropical storm force winds, heavy rains and flooding, and mud and rock slides.

Plan early for possible impacts from wind and rain to homes, businesses, and communities. Be prepared in case power is lost or access is blocked. Ensure you have prescription medications, ice, water, oxygen, and back up power if needed. Conserve water during the storm. This includes turning off the tap while washing your hands and brushing your teeth, flushing the toilet less frequently and making sure to turn off any outside sprinkler systems.

View all Darby-related closures and cancellations here.

hawaii county civil defense

Emergency shelters

Honolulu

As of 2 p.m., the city stopped shuttle service to the shelters, though the shelters themselves remain open. When they close, TheBus and TheHandi-Van will provide return service along the same routes.

Please note that shelters are not equipped with amenities, and residents seeking shelter need to bring their own food, water, medicine and other emergency supplies.

Hawaii Island

The remaining emergency shelters closed at 8 a.m. Sunday: Keaau High, Pahoa High, Honokaa High and Intermediate, Kealakehe High, Kau High, Hilo High, and Mountain View Elementary.

The following shelters closed Saturday: Kalanianaole Elementary, Kohala High and Elementary, Konawaena High, Laupahoehoe Community Charter School, Waiakea High, and Waikoloa Elementary.

Maui County

All shelters were closed as of 5 p.m. Sunday: Hana High School (East Maui), Lokelani Intermediate School (South Maui), Maui High School (Central Maui), Lahainaluna High School (West Maui), Lanai High (Lanai), Molokai High (Molokai). The shelter at Eddie Tam Memorial Center in Upcountry Maui closed at noon.

Storm preparations

Hawaii Island

Hawaii County Mayor Billy Kenoi signed Friday an emergency proclamation in anticipation of the arrival of Tropical Storm Darby.

The Mayor’s proclamation allows easier access to county emergency resources, along with the suspension of certain laws as needed for emergency purposes.

“We want to make sure we are doing everything possible to protect the public,” said Kenoi. “This proclamation improves the county’s ability to respond quickly to any potential impacts from the impending storm.”

The disaster emergency relief period for the proclamation began Friday at noon and will continue for 60 days.

In 2014, Tropical Storm Iselle snapped a lot of albizia trees, bringing down power lines and blocking roads.

Hawaiian Electric Light Company says it’s taken a lot of precautionary measures since then.

“We’ve spent an estimated $14 million to clear trees and other vegetation, including eucalyptus and palms, albizia tress as well, that could damage power lines and power facilities. We’ve done a lot of clearing — nearly 94,000 trees were cleared,” said HELCO public information officer Rhea Lee-Moku.

The utility is preparing crews and equipment to ensure they can respond as quickly as possible.

Shoppers and employees said it was busy at KTA Super Stores in Hilo Friday, but the shelves were stocked with water and other supplies.

“If you live in flood-prone zones, start taking measures right now. Get yourself some sandbags, prepare for flooding. Have a plan to evacuate your homes or businesses if you have to in regard to heavy, heavy rain and flooding conditions. We’re not gonna dodge the wind envelope,” said Ed Teixeira, Hawaii County Civil Defense interim administrator. “We’re expecting tropical-storm-force winds. We can’t get away from that.

“We have geographical conditions that are prone to mudslides, rock slides, tree blow-down. This is the host of types of hazards and consequences we’re going to be facing from Tropical Storm Darby, so we’ve got to take it seriously and we have to be storm ready.”

Maui County

Meanwhile, Maui County officials are also bracing for impact.

Maui Mayor Alan Arakawa signed an emergency proclamation Friday afternoon in anticipation of Darby.

Maui County public information officer Rod Antone is urging drivers to stay off Hana Highway if possible.

“We’ve had over the last week since Sunday three landslides in different areas on Hana Highway. That tells us that the area is already saturated and that we should almost certainly be expecting more landslides,” he said. “We are urging people to rethink it. Maybe take that trip to Hana on Monday, when everything clears up, but definitely, if you choose to travel, you’ll be taking a chance.”

Drivers are also advised against traveling through Kaupo “because we have a high surf warning and that might get washed out real fast,” Antone added.

Officials are doing what they can to make sure the county is prepared, including clearing culverts and checking generators.

“There has been a lot of preparation that’s happened as far as predetermining where supplies need to be stationed, making sure that all our facilities are hardened as much as possible,” said Andrea Finkelstein, Maui Civil Defense plans and operations officer.

They also urge residents to be prepared by clearing loose objects, fueling vehicles, and charging batteries. As a precaution, businesses and residents should try to conserve water during the storm. This includes turning off the tap while washing hands and brushing teeth, flushing the toilet less frequently and making sure to turn off any outside sprinkler systems.

“There is some nervousness, and jitteriness, which I am hesitant to say, but it’s definitely in a good way,” Finkelstein added. “It is providing the definite action needed in order to prepare the county.”

Oahu

City crews have been clearing the openings of the streams, especially in Windward Oahu, such as Kaelepulu Stream in Kailua. City crews were plowing piles of sand to allow water to flow into the ocean, which should help prevent the stream from overflowing.

The city says it will decide Saturday whether to activate the Emergency Operations Center, when officials will have a better idea how close the storm will come to Oahu and determine if emergency shelters will be needed.

Oahu has gone through this type of scenario before, and residents might get a false sense of security, so Honolulu Mayor Kirk Caldwell is asking residents to be prepared.

“It’s good practice, and someday you’re going to be glad you did (prepare). You just never know when that day will be,” Caldwell said.

Hawaiian Electric is maintaining a 24-hour watch on Darby’s path in order to move crews and equipment to areas most likely to be affected.

“We prepare year-round for hurricanes and tropical storms. With Darby’s potential to impact Oahu, we want to take every action possible to ensure we are ready to respond and can do so quickly to restore power to customers affected,” said Colton Ching, HECO vice president of energy delivery.

On Thursday, shoppers at Costco in Iwilei were already stocking up their hurricane kits. For some, this was their first time preparing for a storm.

“People are stocking up on diapers and canned foods and people are getting crazy here. You just look around. There’s huge crowds running up at Costco,” said shopper Paul Kim.

“Usually I fill up on water, you know the five gallons, and stock up on food, but I’m originally from Lanai so you know how it is over there,” said shopper Devin Jeremiah.

Click here for more information on what to put in your hurricane kit.

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