Getting ready for the worst

LIHUE — Wailua resident Valerie Saiki wants to protect herself in case a hurricane heads toward Kauai.

“Preparedness is the best thing that you can do,” she said. “It’s better to be prepared and not have a hurricane than have a hurricane and not be prepared.”

Saiki was one of about 40 people at a county workshop Thursday at the Lihue Neighborhood Center to learn strategies that could help them and their families prepare for whatever the season may bring.

Princeville resident Michael Mitchell survived a hurricane in Florida in 2004.

“I think any coordination that the county and state and federal officials can have to be more prepared all around the board is with communication, with preparedness of just knowing who should go where and responsibilities, ya I think it’s great,” he said.

Presentations were made by the Hawaii Emergency Management Agency, Kauai Civil Defense Agency, National Weather Service, University of Hawai Sea Grant College Program and the American Red Cross.

Topics covered included lessons learned from the 2014 hurricane season; outlook for the 2015 hurricane season, how to prepare your home to be wind resistant, what to do with rooftop solar panels, evacuation planning, and emergency supplies.

County of Kauai Civic Defense Agency Manager Elton Ushio spoke about tsunami and tropical cyclone preparedness which meant being informed, making a plan and building a kit in addition to identifying the risks of a hurricane which are wind, storm surges and flooding. People can also be prepared by monitoring local media and online resources.

“We have multiple threats from tropical cyclones,” Ushio said.

To make a plan, individuals should find shelter, identify evacuation routes, make action checklists and identify when a watch and warning are issued, Ushio said.

Household members should also review the plans with their families and address the needs of every household member.

Kits should contain food and water for seven days and include cash, a flashlight, toiletries, IDs and cooking equipment and fuel.

Padraic Gallagher, Red Cross director for disaster services on Kauai, said family members should create two plans for the hurricane season; one if they are together and another if they are apart. He also said that a preparation kit should have necessary products but be portable so a person can carry it to a shelter.

Shelly Kunishige, spokeswoman for Hawaii Emergency Management Agency, stressed the importance of community involvement through the storms, methods of communication such as radios and Kauai’s outdoor warning system.

“The more methods you have of receiving communication the better,” she said.

Kunishige said because there will be a resources gap between the ending of the storm and when help can arrive, community members should be trained to open a Red Cross shelter in their community and identify which roads need to be cleared after a storm.

“It’s pretty crucial,” she said.

University of Hawaii Sea Grant Dennis Hwang said people can protect their home by using hurricane clips to secure the roof to the walls of the house.

“Their house could provide protection for their family and it’s also a lot of families’ major investment,” Hwang said.

June 1 marked the beginning of hurricane season. No tropical cyclones are expected to affect Hawaii through Sunday afternoon, according to NOAA.


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