By Karen S. Spangler, Managing Editor, Ho`okele
Island residents spent some hot, sticky days last week as Tropical Depression Ela, the first tropical storm of the 2015 hurricane season, passed the island chain. Luckily, other than the oppressive weather conditions and rainy conditions, the storm had little effect on Hawaii.
But it served as a reminder that we are right in the middle of hurricane season and at any time, one of the storms could form and make its way toward the islands. For those residents who haven’t already done so, it is a good time to make an emergency preparedness plan and assemble a disaster kit.
Emergency management officials agree that it isn’t a matter of if, but when, Hawaii will have to deal with one of the powerful storms. You never know – this might be the year.
“Get back to basics, review or make a family emergency plan, and stock your kit with essential items that you need,” encouraged Dan DuBois, emergency manager for Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam (JBPHH).
“Having an emergency kit is very important—with enough food and water to last your family for three to seven days, medications, etc. and making sure that you have at least $250 in cash,” he said.
With widespread power outages, ATMs (automated teller machines) would not be operable and couldn’t dispense money.
“Make sure that important documents, such as your homeowners’ insurance papers and health paperwork, are in waterproof containers, and take those with you to the evacuation shelter,” DuBois said.
There are many things that can happen as the result of a visit by a hurricane, tropical storm, or any other natural disaster. The major result is the high winds, heavy rains, flooding and storm surge brought on by the storm. Those elements can cause major damage, power outages, etc.
DuBois stressed the importance of residents collecting the food, water, batteries and other supplies that they need ahead of time. Too often, people wait until the last minute to purchase plywood and board up their homes, purchase the necessary supplies, etc., he said.
Another thing to consider is that store shelves are quickly depleted and once that happens, residents won’t be able to find essential items such as bottled water, food staples, flashlights and batteries. That happened when Hurricane Iniki struck in 1992.
In our island paradise, isolated in the middle of the Pacific Ocean, it could be quite awhile before store shelves are replenished. So it’s important to be prepared.
For more information, about emergency preparedness, visit the Navy Region Hawaii website at www.cnic.navy.mil/hawaii and the JBPHH web-site: www.cnic.navy.mil/PearlHarbor-Hickam.
Additional information is available at www.ready.gov.