USARHAW must prepare for hurricane season

| May 27, 2016 | 0 Comments
Image courtesy Jacques Descloitres, MODIS Land Rapid Response Team at NASA GSFC.

Image courtesy Jacques Descloitres, MODIS Land Rapid Response Team at NASA GSFC.

 

Christine Cabalo
Staff Writer

Last year, Hawaii was in the middle of the most active hurricane season in the central Pacific since 1971, according to a 2015 National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration news release.

Service members and civilians are urged to prepare, as this year’s hurricane season begins June 1, continuing through Nov. 30.

The NOAA report notes in 2015 the central Pacific region saw 14 named storms, including eight hurricanes.

A view of damage to the Kekaha Sugar Company facility, Kauai, casused by Hurricane Iniki.

A view of damage to the Kekaha Sugar Company facility, Kauai, casused by Hurricane Iniki.

“The biggest thing, whether people evacuate to a shelter or stay at home, is they should bring a kit with them,” said Joe Barker, emergency management officer; Directorate of Plans, Training, Mobilization and Security; U.S. Army Garrison-Hawaii. “A shelter may not have supplies, food, medicine and water, so it’s important to develop your own emergency kits.”

When making emergency kits and disaster plans, officials are urging people to think about what they’ll need in the worst-case scenario.

“During an emergency, we always recommend people have at least seven days of critical supplies because, in the event of major disaster, getting supplies will take a while longer in Hawaii,” said Krislyn Yano, communications manager, American Red Cross. “It’s important to have a plan.”

Both Yano and Barker said people should plan for all needs, including medication or contact lens solution.

“Think about supplies for families who have family members with someone who has special needs or an animal,” Barker said. “You need to make sure there are enough supplies to support 30 days.

A view of damage to ocean front homes near the Poipu area, Kauai, caused by Hurricane Iniki.

A view of damage to ocean front homes near the Poipu area, Kauai, caused by Hurricane Iniki.

If a person needs a wheelchair or equipment to move around, have batteries or generators so that person can get around.”

New technology is now available to help prepare for an emergency. Both the American Red Cross and the City and County of Honolulu have developed free smartphone apps.

The American Red Cross has several apps, including one named Emergency.

“The Emergency Red Cross app can send messages to others to let them you’re know safe in a disaster,” Yano said. “You can also get alerts about disasters for certain geographical areas.”

The Red Cross also assists in locating Soldiers during emergencies, but there are other proactive steps Army personnel can take before a crisis.

“Having an off-island contact for you and your family to make contact with is really useful,” said John Cummings III, public information officer for the Department of Emergency Management for the City and County of Honolulu. “If you get separated from your family on island, you’ll still be able to check in. After 20 years of being on the job working on emergency preparedness, I think one of my biggest fears is not knowing where my family is.”

A free app for smartphones and tablets called Ready Hawaii is available for emergency information from the City and County of Hawaii. Users can find tips on creating disaster plans, emergency kits and find nearby shelters in an emergency.

A free app for smartphones and tablets called Ready Hawaii is available for emergency information from the City and County of Hawaii. Users can find tips on creating disaster plans, emergency kits and find nearby shelters in an emergency.

With Ready Hawaii, the City and County of Honolulu’s app, there are maps, checklists and locators for where people can find the nearest shelter.

Barker and Yano said the people should consider the structural integrity of their current location before evacuating. If a person lives in an older home, an area prone to flooding, or in a region where alerts are to evacuate, officials agree to move to their nearest shelter. However, newer structures may be safer.

“With on base housing, the newly constructed houses are built to withstand a category 3 hurricane,” Barker said. “The structures were built out using 25 gage steel metal studs, with 8 millimeter metal sheeting under the wood.”

The City and County of Honolulu offers free Community Emergency Response Team training to prepare. Cummings said the course features 20 hours of instruction, educational materials and a final session in the field to practice.

Officials agree the best way to survive a hurricane or other emergency is to be prepared.

“We’re isolated,” Cummings said. “We rely on getting goods from personnel in the outside world. If we get hit on Oahu, it could be a number of days before get assistance.”

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