Be prepared for the troubles that could hit an island

T

his year we entered hurricane season in an El Nino weather pattern. According to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), El Nino refers to the large-scale ocean-atmosphere climate interaction linked to a periodic warming in sea surface temperatures across the central and east-central Equatorial Pacific. The warming of the water can fuel storms versus the cooler water that tends to break them apart. The weather experts say we could see an increased number of storms this year, so now is the time to be sure we are prepared.

Kauai Civil Defense just completed a major four-day statewide exercise called Makani Pahili, where a simulated category 4 hurricane hit all of the Hawaiian islands and knocked out our ability to communicate. It was a tabletop, functional and full-scale exercise and helped many of us learn new skills and refresh those we have used in the past. Quite frankly, losing all ability to communicate has been one of my biggest fears in responding to a disaster. In the next few weeks, our visitor industry partners will be meeting to review our emergency preparedness to be sure we are all on the same page for this hurricane season.

Kudos to the recent work done by the Hanalei to Haena Disaster Resilience Team. That group has been practicing on how to respond to emergencies, and how to be resilient within their community. Past experience has shown, it is not “if,” but, “when” they may be faced with another event that could isolate them from the rest of the island.

To help us all be informed, Kauai Civil Defense held a free emergency preparedness workshop on Saturday, June 14 at the Lihue Neighborhood Center. Experts from the Kauai Civil Defense, NOAA and American Red Cross shared information and resources with the attendees. Topics such as what supplies to have in your emergency kit and where to go in the event of an evacuation were covered. For the home, the University of Hawaii Sea Grant gave tips on how to prepare your home to survive a disaster. Another opportunity being offered is the Community Emergency Response Team (CERT) training course held every Thursday, beginning June 19 through July 24 from 5:30 to 9:30 p.m. The classes will be held at the Kauai Fire Department headquarters at the Lihue Civic Center, 4444 Rice St., Ste 315.

CERT is a free six-week disaster and emergency preparedness course that is tailored to citizens and taught by firefighters. Attendance at all six classes is required for certification. The training is free to residents, as part of a program sponsored by the Kauai Fire Department and Kauai Civil Defense Agency. For more information on the CERT program, or to register, visit www.kauai.gov/cert . The CERT Coordinator is John Cornell and he can be reached by email at kfdcert@kauai.gov or phone at 645-0661.

I hope everyone will take advantage of the free information and training available for our residents, so that we can all be better prepared in the event of a disaster.

 

Sue Kanoho is executive director of the Kauai Visitors Bureau.

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