Hawai’i hunkers down, collecting emergency supplies for 'Slow-Moving' Hurricane

Hurricane Lane: The giant storm is approaching the Hawaiian Islands (Image: NASA/Ricky Arnold)

Debra Krol

'Hurricane Lane' incites preparations for water, food, batteries in Aloha State for the biggest storm to hit in decade

Airliners are packed full of tourists escaping what Weather Channel meteorologist Rick Knabb calls a slow-moving hurricane, while emergency workers and journalists grabbed those same seats heading to Honolulu, Kahului and Hilo to be ready for whats anticipated to be the first hurricane to strike Hawaii in 26 years.

In the meantime, public and private entities and residents are all preparing for the worst, and hoping for the best, as they look down the barrel of Hurricane Lane.

The Category 4 storm is the first anticipated to inflect a direct hit on the Aloha State since Hurricane Iniki in 1992, which caused $3 billion in damage and killed six people. The Central Pacific Hurricane Center reported that Lane, with sustained wind speeds of 130 MPH, is headed on a northwesterly course toward Kailua-Kona on the Big Island and Honolulu on Oahu. Hurricane warnings are in effect for Hawaii Island, Maui and Oahu--including Honolulu--while a hurricane watch is in effect for Kauai County.

Knabb Tweeted, I despise slow-moving tropical cyclones, and #Lane will be another one for the next 2-3 days.

"Right now, this system is really setting up to be a significant rain event," FEMA Administrator Brock Long told reporters for the Weather Channel Thursday morning.

NASA also tweeted regarding temperature-based images of the hurricane,

Carl Parker, Weather Channel meteorologist, stresses that assessment. Theres a tremendous amount of moisture, he said. There is so much mountainous terrain that flash floods and mudslides are a huge concern. Parker added that in addition to freshwater threats, the surf is anticipated to rise to 10 up to 20 feet in south shorelands. And the forecast for where Lane may be headed is really tricky, Parker says. A south westerly wind flow could take it in, or it might just stay on Maui, which would be devastating.

Gov. David Ige issued several statements via media, Twitter and Facebook, including an announcement that President Donald Trump had issued a disaster declaration. The state already has a hurricane relief fund that was set up after Hurricane Iniki which has been replenished, Ige said during a press conference broadcast live on his Facebook page on Wednesday, Aug. 22.

Ige said that federal, state and county agencies were coordinating to keep the community safe. All harbors have been closed, he said, and non-essential government workers have been sent home. He encouraged people to stock at least two weeks supplies, including food, water, medications, battery-powered radios and other supplies.

Ige also noted that the Emergency Broadcast System has withstood the test of time, and will be operating as the storm proceeds, in strongly encouraging residents to ensure their radios work and have extra batteries. At least 20 shelters were identified for Oahu, and neighbor islands also have shelters in place, although Ige notes that there are not enough shelters for everybody and encouraged all who arent in flood zones to shelter in place.

"We do not want to see what happened in Puerto Rico [during last years Hurricane Maria], and we do that by making sure we're prepared," Honolulu Mayor Kirk Caldwell said at the Wednesday press conference. "We need the full cooperation of all of the public, really showing the aloha that we're all about."

The Weather Channel also announced that, at 11 a.m. Hawaii time, more than 10 inches of rain had already dropped on the Big Island, with 19 inches reported in some areas. Hawaii Island is still recovering from the Kilauea volcano eruption that destroyed about 700 homes on the islands windward (eastern) side.

Video of the flash flooding on the Big Island.

Local residents are busy preparing for the high winds, strong rainfall and possible flooding. On the windward (east) side of Oahu, Nakoa Prejean took a few moments from securing his home in Hauula.

Prejean, Native Hawaiian, is also the owner of Hawaiian Ocean Adventures, a local tourism venue. Its all about preparation, says Prejean. Weve shut down the business, and weve spent the last couple of days clearing trees and other debris and securing everything at home. Prejean, the father of a 6-year-old son, is also grateful that schools have cancelled classes.

Hes also a bit bemused at all the near-apocalyptic coverage. Were pretty used to inclement weather here, says Prejean. We get a lot of weather like tropical storms.

But, this storm is concerning because of its size and magnitude, Prejean says. Some people on Kauai are still recovering from this springs rainstorms, and theyre very concerned about the hurricane. In April, the island was inundated with 50 inches of rain in just 24 hours. But, he added, were preparing for the worst but hoping for the best. But hes also got more gas cans on hand just in case.

Noalani Sugata, Native Hawaiian, lives on the leeward (west) side of Maui. Sugata, a marketing professional, noted via Twitter message that Its not raining on Maui yet, but weather services say the island will be hit with rain by 2 p.m. Hawaii time.

But aloha is still the word of the day in Hawaii.

Our aloha spirit is to go out and help each other, Caldwell said during the conference. Prejean echoes that. Were watching out for othersfamily, elderly and neighbors.Theres so much aloha here that we all come out to make sure everybodys safe.

For current information on emergency services, visit theHawaii Emergency Management Agency.