You can’t be too prepared

  • Bethany Freudenthal / The Garden Island

    Kelvin Moniz

  • Bethany Freudenthal / The Garden Island

    Nathaniel Evslin

  • Bethany Freudenthal / The Garden Island

    Dr. Melinda Menezes

  • Dennis Fujimoto / The Garden Island

    Kauai Fire Department Chief Robert Westerman, right, moderates a panel discussion on Disaster Preparedness: How to Prepare and Recover Business from Disasters, Tuesday afternoon at the Kauai War Memorial Convention Hall.

LIHUE — Dr. Melinda Menezes is ready for trouble.

The Lihue woman said her business created a disaster preparedness checklist for the office.

“We had to talk with our IT guys about what to do with our computers,” she said. “I have a lot of medical equipment so we have a plan about where we put the equipment, how to treat the outside of the building, and then we’ve gotten boards for the glass and I’ve double-checked with our insurance companies.”

Menezes said you can never be too prepared.

“You don’t want to be caught wishing that you had,” she said.

She was one of about 50 people who gathered at Kauai War Memorial Convention Hall Tuesday for a program on disaster preparedness hosted by the Kauai Chamber of Commerce.

After April’s historic flooding, county Planning Director Mike Dahilig spent several weeks on the North Shore. He said in the realm of long-range planning, one deals a lot with sociology and psychology.

“We may not think about it in that respect, but human interaction is always the element when put in that scenario where there’s urgency, threat and damage that’s coming. It’s very unpredictable in terms of how people cope with these things,” he said.

Island School Dean of Students Nathaniel Evslin said he was attending the discussion to make sure the school’s almost 420 students are kept safe during natural disasters.

“For weather events we try to prepare as much as we can. For Hurricane Lane we were able to cancel school. For the tropical storm tomorrow, we’re kind of discussing what our options are and waiting for some more information to come in to make that call,” he said.

If it’s something like a missile alert crisis, Evslin said their plan is to take students into the school’s gym, which is their safest spot. But for each situation, they have to figure out how to keep students and staff safe, Evslin added.

One thing residents and businesses should consider during a disaster, said Beth Tokioka, communications manager for Kauai Island Utility Cooperative, is assuming that at some point you’re going to lose power and it could be a lengthy outage.

Businesses and residents should be prepared with batteries and making sure electronic devices are charged.

“But you also, especially in your businesses and home is you want to protect your equipment from power surges because again if the power goes out depending on what happens, you could have damages to your equipment, so you’ll want to unplug what you can unplug during the duration of the event to keep that safe,” she said.

Kelvin Moniz of the Kauai Independent Food Bank said he wanted to get a refresher and gain more knowledge on natural disasters.

One thing he’s learned that’s most important in preparing for a disaster is to get a disaster kit ready and to know exactly where your family has to go in case of an emergency.

“If they have to meet up somewhere before the disaster or right after the disaster to make contact with each other, make sure everyone knows where is our rally point,” he said.

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Bethany Freudenthal, crime, courts and county reporter, can be reached at 652-7891 or bfreudenthal@thegardenisland.com.

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