There is a near- or below-normal hurricane season predicted for the Central Pacific this year, according to NOAA’s Central Pacific Hurricane Center and NOAA’s Climate Prediction Center, divisions of the National Weather Service. The outlook predicts a 45% chance of near-normal tropical cyclone, and also a 35% chance for below-normal activity, and 20% chance of an above-normal season.
However, as NOAA’s director of the Pacific Hurricane Center points out “It only takes one direct hit, or even a close call, to have a major impact on daily life here in the Hawaiian Islands. Take time to prepare now.”
Associations are advised to review their emergency plans now, and make any updates necessary. Community members should also have a personal emergency plan in place.
This year, the National Weather Service predicts that there may be between two and five tropical storms and hurricanes in the Central Pacific. Hawaii’s hurricane season runs from June 1 to Nov. 30, but emergency plans should be in place for any time of year.
As we have seen in the past, even a close pass from a hurricane or a significant rain system that passes over land, saturated by previous storms, can trigger a major mudslide and cause significant structural damage. Earlier this year, heavy rains caused a dam on Maui to overflow. Six homes and two bridges were heavily damaged or destroyed, and several neighborhoods were evacuated.
Here is how to prepare for hurricanes and other emergencies on the island.
You will be better prepared to safely reunite your family and loved ones during an emergency if you think ahead and communicate with others in advance.
- Find out about existing emergency plans at places where your family spends time: work, daycare, and school.
- If no plans exist, consider volunteering to help create one.
- Talk to your neighbors about how you can work together in the event of an emergency.
Learn more at: http://www.ready.gov/america/makeaplan/work_school.html.
Family Communications Plan
Your family may not be together when disaster strikes, so plan how you will contact one another and review what you will do in different situations.
- It may be easier to make a long-distance phone call than to call within Maui island, so an off-island contact may be in a better position to communicate among separated family members.
- Be sure every member of your family knows the phone number and has a prepaid phone card to call the emergency contact.
- Keep cell phones fully charged at all times.
- You may have trouble getting through or the telephone system may be down altogether, but be patient.
- Be prepared. Make sure all family members know what to do in case of emergency.
- Decide where the family will meet if separated, where you will seek shelter, and what you will take with you if you must evacuate.
- If an emergency occurs, remain calm. Follow your plan. Listen to the radio or television for instructions and information.
- Know warning signals and shelter locations.
Emergency Information and Supplies
Methods of getting your attention vary from community to community.
- Find out what kinds of disasters, both natural and man-made, are most likely to occur in your area and how you will be notified.
- One common method in Hawaii is to broadcast information via emergency radio and TV announcements. You might hear a special siren, get a telephone call, or emergency workers may go door-to-door.
- A hand-crank radio that does not require batteries or electricity is an excellent piece of equipment to have in your emergency kit.
Here are some more ideas on what should go in your Maui emergency kit.
Deciding to Stay or Go
Depending on your circumstances and the nature of the emergency, the first important decision is whether you stay put or go somewhere else. You should understand and plan for both possibilities.
- Use common sense and available information, including what you are learning here, to determine if there is immediate danger.
- In any emergency, authorities may or may not immediately be able to provide information on what is happening and what you should do. However, you should monitor TV or radio news reports for information or official instructions as they become available.
- If you’re specifically told to evacuate or seek medical treatment, do so immediately.
It should also be noted that most homeowners’ and renters’ policies do not cover flood damage. When only an inch of water in a home can cost more than $25,000 to repair, an additional flood insurance policy can be the difference between recovery and financial devastation.
Additional checklists and information is available from http://www.ready.gov. You can also subscribe to receive updates on everything from natural disasters to homeland security. It’s always better to make a plan in advance than to get caught without one in an emergency.