LIHUE — Kauai Police Department Sgt. Barry DeBlake was conducting a homeless sweep Thursday at Kukui Grove Center — not to arrest anyone, but to help them.
“We’ve got officers doing this around the island,” DeBlake said. “We’re concerned about their welfare during the storm. We’re not out to make trouble for them, but we want to make sure they know where they can go to be safe. We’re also getting their name and contact information so if people call inquiring about them, we have a starting point.”
DeBlake handed an information resource sheet to Melissa McFerrin-Warrack of the Kukui Grove Center management team, who volunteered the services of its security detail.
“We want to reach as many of these people as we can,” DeBlake said. “We are concerned about their safety, and appreciate the help because we can’t reach everyone.”
Kelvin Moniz of the Kauai Independent Food Bank said they were ready for the arrival of Hurricane Lane Thursday.
Moniz was interrupted in his storm preparations by a pair living in an old van needing some food to ride out the storm.
“We’re getting ready to send everyone home,” Moniz said. “But we had to fill all the trucks with supplies, and get everything else prepared to ride out the storm. This way, if we’re needed, we are ready to roll. We delivered a load to The Salvation Army Wednesday afternoon because they were contracted by the American Red Cross to cook up to 300 meals. We got that out, and now we’re ready.”
It was a quiet Thursday around the island as traffic was light and most residents stayed home and visitors stayed in hotels.
But the mall was crowded with people because state and county offices were closed, state Department of Education schools and many private schools were closed, and many of the private-sector businesses opted to shut down before the arrival of the storm, including some of the stores at Kukui Grove. Others were busy with storm preparations.
“We’re just trying to be helpful,” said a construction worker helping to board up Kay Jewelers. “These people were closed since Wednesday. The people who work with them called and asked if we could do this.”
McFerrin-Warrack said in anticipation of the storm, all of the Aloha Friday night activities have been canceled. Work on the playground being installed in the exhibition area fronting Deja Vu Surf Hawaii has been suspended until the weather dries out, and tenants are being allowed to close by 7 p.m. today.
“We are monitoring the storm very closely, and if conditions warrant, the stores may close earlier,” she said.
Times Supermarket and Longs CVS are trying to stay open for as long as they can because there are people who still need supplies, or encounter emergency needs for medication.
Dennis Fujimoto, staff writer and photographer, can be reached at 245-0453 or email@example.com.