HONOLULU — As Hawaii monitors the first two hurricanes moving toward the state this season, a new guide to disaster recovery in the face of climate change has been released.
Entitled “Guidance for Disaster Recovery Preparedness in Hawaii”, the guide was recently completed by the University of Hawaii Sea Grant College Program (Hawaii Sea Grant) in partnership with the Department of Land and Natural Resources and the state Office of Planning.
The 118-page guide was developed to assist state and county governments in developing or expanding resilience-focused recovery practices and policies before a disaster strikes to enable communities to recover quickly while also adapting to climate change and sea level rise.
The document is aimed at state and county planners and outlines ways to integrate disaster recovery into various plans and policies as well as restructuring government workings for times when counties are in recovery.
It also identifies pathways to pursue critical disaster recovery preparedness activities to support resilient recovery and reconstruction.
And while there are some solid, detailed recommendations for disaster prep and recovery within the guide, it’s mostly aimed at county and state staff — providing them with steps on how to structure county response and policy.
Three main resources included in the guide are models of a disaster recovery ordinance, disaster recovery framework and a disaster reconstruction ordinance.
“It is imperative that Hawaii prepare as much as possible for increasing impacts of coastal storms with climate change and sea level rise,” said DLNR chair and co-chair of the Climate Commission Suzanne Case.
Dr. Brad Romine with the UH Sea Grant Program and leader of the project that developed the guide pointed said it isn’t a secret that Hawaii’s shorefront development is vulnerable to natural disasters, and the vulnerability is increasing.
“Impacts from flooding, high waves, and erosion will worsen in coming decades with sea level rise and other climate change related effects. We need to improve our preparedness, particularly for longer-term recovery and rebuilding following a disaster,” Romine said.
The Climate Commission said in a Tuesday statement that it recognizes that climate change and sea level rise will intensify the impacts of disastrous events including hurricanes and tsunami, as well as extreme high-wave and rainfall events.