Daniel blows away to the north

HANALEI – Tropical Storm Daniel remained active in Hawaiian waters this morning, but didn’t appear to be a threat to property or residents, according to the Kaua’i Civil Defense Agency.

A tropical storm watch was cancelled at 5 p.m. Monday, and the storm was running parallel to the state this morning. Wind speeds were 45 to 55 knots, down from 60 yesterday, according to Civil Defense officials.

Yesterday, with Daniel still a threat to Kaua’i, government and emergency officials, utilities and private citizens got ready for the worst.

Thirty or so sailboats in Hanalei Bay have keels which prevent them from making it into the mouth of the Hanalei River, and they were too slow to get far enough away to avoid the storm. So, they were going to ride the storm out in the bay, said one boat owner who’s been through such situations before.

The 42-foot Lady Leanne II, which survived Hurricane ‘Iniki while moored in Hanalei Bay, was braced for Daniel by owner Rick Marvin, who owns Bluewater Sailing along with his wife Amy.

“We started early,” he said of preparations for Daniel. Extra anchors and ropes for both boats were among the strategies employed.

The other commercial boat operators could either try to hide in the river, or trailer their boats and take them to garages, said Bob Butler of Capt. Sundown Catamaran Ku’uipo.

Butler brought his boat into the river Sunday night, joining at least two other boats. He said safety’s not guaranteed in the river, as flooding may create debris.

The river hasn’t flooded in some time, so Butler was expecting debris if the storm triggered flooding.

The boats in the bay had little choice but to batten down the hatches. “If they didn’t leave a couple days ago, they may as well stay here,” Butler said.

“Anybody who can get their boat out of the water should,” Butler said, hoping that the storm would veer north.

A Na Pali Eco Adventures, operating out of Port Allen, planned to pull both of its boats out of the water before the storm, said a spokesperson for that company.

The new U.S. Coast Guard Cutter Kittiwake was ordered Saturday to O’ahu to ride out Daniel. That island has hurricane-resistant moorings that the Nawiliwili moorings on Kaua’i do not, and on Saturday Daniel was still a hurricane, explained Lt. j.g. Jennifer Cook, Kittiwake’s commanding officer.

With 25-foot seas that were being predicted in the channel as a result of Daniel, a Coast Guard helicopter would be the best rescue craft for an at-sea emergency in waters around Kaua’i, Cook said. If those seas materialized, it would have been dangerous to have anyone on deck aboard the Kittiwake in a search-and-rescue situation, she said.

The Nawiliwili station still had the 24-foot, rigid-hull inflatable boats that could respond even in a tropical storm situation.

Cook urged people to stay off the water until the storm was well past the islands, and she added that local boaters should do all they can to safeguard their crafts.

“I’d try to get my boat out of the water and try to park it in the garage” or out of the high water, she said.

High wind can create surges in harbors, Cook said.

If people have questions about boat safety, conditions, the latest weather information and whether it’s a wise decision to journey out to sea, they can call the Nawiliwili station at 246-0390, she said.

Closing the island’s golf courses, most of which are on or near the ocean, hadn’t been discussed much Monday, according to course operators.

Mike Loo, of Princeville Corp., said some golfers come from afar at great expense with golf in mind and wouldn’t let weather keep them from teeing off.

Still, the Princeville course has a disaster preparedness plan, he said, adding Princeville’s improved drainage system is capable of safely handling heavy rain.

A decision on whether to close Kaua’i County-operated Wailua Golf Course hadn’t been discussed at county briefings, said Beth Tokioka, county spokeswoman.

Like officials of public and private entities, many people citizens yesterday were just watching and waiting to see where and how strong Daniel would be as it neared Kaua’i.

Even in a weakened capacity, Daniel could do some damage with high winds and rain. That could mean power outages.

Kaua’i Electric has a disaster response plan, and utility officials were sitting in on county Civil Defense briefings, said Jenny Fujita, KE spokeswoman.

The county was urging people to postpone camping in remote areas or near the ocean.

The Navy’s Pacific Missile Range Facility at Barking Sands was reviewing procedures and examining hurricane “kits” for each area of the base, said spokeswoman Vida Mossman.

“But as far as boarding up anything, covering things up, we’re not doing that yet,” she said yesterday afternoon.

The base had no ships, and the five helicopters and two fixed-wing aircraft had secure hangars, Mossman said.

Kaua’i Fire Department battalion chief Ernest Moniz Jr. said fire stations across the island were ready for any emergency that might arise from Daniel.

The department, he said, had extra medical equipment, water and food, and fuel.

“We are ready, lock and load,” Moniz said.

Kymm Solchaga, spokeswoman for the county Department of Water, said emergency preparations had been discussed.

Kaleo Ho’okano, who heads the county’s lifeguard division, said the county’s Civil Defense office planned to decide after 8 p.m. yesterday whether to close county beaches. As a safety precaution, Ho’okano said he would request that the beaches be closed.

Preparations and information involving Daniel—the hurricane-turned-tropical storm that missed Kaua’i—can be helpful for the next storm.

For instance, Kaua’i Electric again publicized the phone number (246-8200) for reporting power outages. When phone lines are also down, the number is 639-2000.

During storms, electrical customers should keep batteries in their radios to hear updates on power outages and other information on the island’s radio stations—KUAI, KONG-AM AND FM, FM97 and perhaps KKCR, officials said.

Power outages can harm computers, VCRs and other sensitive electronic equipment. They should be unplugged during storms.

Surge protectors can help protect them, KE officials noted.

The officials also reminded people not to touch, cut or move any downed power lines or poles.

While lines are de-energized during storms, that doesn’t ensure they won’t be live. Sometimes, improperly wired generators can feed electricity back into the lines, making them dangerous.

Staff writer Paul C. Curtis can be reached at 245-3681 (ext. 224) or pcurtis@pulitzer.net. Staff writer Lester Chang contributed to this report.


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