Hawaii County officials are preparing for the worst as Hurricane Madeline approaches.
On the forecast track, the center of Madeline will pass dangerously close to the island Wednesday and Wednesday night.
Forecasters say the storm is expected to be at hurricane strength when it passes the county.
Gov. David Ige signed a pre-landfall emergency proclamation on Tuesday, as the state prepares for possible impacts from hurricanes Madeline and Lester. The proclamation authorizes the expenditure of state monies for quick and efficient relief of disaster-related damages, losses and suffering resulting from the storms.
The disaster emergency relief period begins on Aug. 30 and continues through Sept. 9.
Hawaii County Civil Defense says you should finish your storm preparations by Tuesday night, because hurricane-force winds will likely pick up Wednesday and Thursday.
High surf will start to build Tuesday night with heavy rains to arrive Wednesday.
All county facilities, offices and services will be closed Wednesday including Hele-On Bus service, solid waste transfer stations and landfills.
All state and county park facilities including lava viewing, and some camping and remote areas of Hawaii Volcanoes National Park will also be closed Wednesday.
State offices will be closed on Hawaii Island Wednesday. Employees will be granted administrative leave and should not report to work with the exception of departmental disaster/emergency coordinators, disaster response workers, and employees whose work involves continuing crucial operations/services, such as hospital workers, correctional workers, etc.
Employees in the above categories are required to report to work unless department directors determine they can be excused. If employees are unsure whether they are required to report to work, they should seek clarification from their immediate supervisor or manager. Hourly paid employees are not entitled to administrative leave.
Hawaii Electric Light Company employees are working around the clock to try and lessen an outage impact, securing transformers at the HELCO baseyard near Hilo International Airport.
“Madeline is a very strong storm, so we’re not exactly sure what will happen. Since Iselle hit, we’ve spent about $14 million clearing albizia trees and other vegetation from around our main transmission lines,” said HELCO spokeswoman Rhea Lee-Moku. “We made sure we have sufficient materials and supplies on hand. We prepared our employees. We’ve stood up additional employees to answer phone calls and come in so that we can respond quickly to trouble calls when it’s safe to do so.”
At Hawaii County Civil Defense headquarters, officials are urging residents to take the hurricane warning seriously.
“We want people to be prepared, make sure they shelter in place, make sure people as much as possible stay off the roads. That’s when we can allocate our personnel, our resources to people who need it the most,” said Hawaii County Mayor Billy Kenoi.
The county’s emergency operations center will be working around the clock tracking the storm and conditions around the island, he said.
The following Hawaii Island shelters will open at 5 p.m. Tuesday (pet-friendly shelters are marked with an asterisk):
- Hilo High
- Honokaa High*
- Kalanianaole Elementary and Intermediate*
- Kau High*
- Keaau High*
- Kealakehe High*
- Kohala High
- Konawaena High*
- Laupahoehoe Public Charter School
- Mountain View Elementary
- Pahoa High*
- Waiakea High*
- Waikoloa Elementary
- Waimea Middle
At the KTA Super Stores in Hilo, people were stocking up on supplies, and stores will open at 4:30 a.m. Wednesday so residents can be sufficiently prepared.
As you should be during the entirety of hurricane season, be prepared.
The agency has already updated its website with information about the approaching storm with another one not far behind. Emergency management officials say whether we are impacted or not, everyone should have a plan.
With the possibility of a one-two punch — with Hurricane Lester close behind — Hawaii Island’s interim civil defense administrator Ed Teixeira said they’ve started contacting various county and other agencies to be one step ahead of the storms.
“We may have a very long week ahead of us,” he said. “We’ve got a lot of vegetable growers, fruit growers on the island. We’ve got ranchers and farmers of all types as well, so everybody’s gotta take these two storms seriously.”
With any tropical storm, high surf, heavy rain and winds could be an issue, but Teixiera says preparation is key, as seen first-hand with Tropical Storm Darby last month.
“Hawaii County did a lot of work ahead of time preparing for it,” he said, “trimming trees, making sure culverts were clear, and that helped limit the amount of damage that occurred as Darby came ashore.”
Remember, your hurricane preparedness kit needs to have a week’s supply of food and water for every member of your household. Click here for a full list of items you’ll need in your kit.