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Maui residents urged to stay indoors

By Nanea Kalani

LAST UPDATED: 3:55 a.m. HST, Aug 8, 2014

KAHULUI >> Maui Mayor Alan Arakawa is urging the island's residents to stay indoors after 9 p.m. Thursday, when strong winds from Hurricane Iselle are expected to hit the Valley Isle.

"Civil Defense has recommended that no one except for emergency personnel be out on the road past 9 p.m.," Arakawa said at a news conference Thursday afternoon. "This is very important because we are expecting damaging tropical storm force winds of up to 60 mph as well as potentially life-threatening flash floods and rock and mud slides. ... Get inside and stay alive."

County officials expect storm conditions to last six to eight hours, Anna Foust, emergency management officer for Maui Civil Defense, said. She said effects will be felt across the island. 

"Don't think that if you live in a certain part of the island that you might be unaffected or less affected," Foust said. 

"Even with the winds that are being announced, we have effects of down-slope acceleration, so those are the expected wind speeds but certain areas may feel stronger winds than that," she added, noting areas like Ukumehame and Ulupalakua.

Arakawa earlier on Wednesday declared a state of emergency for the entire county, including Molokai and Lanai, until further notice.

All nonemergency county and state workers were sent home at noon. Public and private schools are closed, along with county parks, community centers, beach parks, 

Eight Red Cross evacuation shelters -- five on Maui, two on Molokai and one on Lanai -- began accepting people at 1 p.m. Thursday.

Families began trickling into Baldwin High School's gym in Kahului Thursday afternoon.

Kahului resident Renee Fludd said she wanted to secure a spot in the gym near the restrooms for her family of 13, including five children. She said their home nearby is undergoing construction.

"There's a lot of loose materials at the house, so I figured it's safer here. I'd rather our property get damaged than one of us get injured," Fludd said.

Patricia Martin, the shelter's manager, stressed that anyone seeking shelter will need to bring their own supplies of food, water, bedding and flashlights.

"This is just an emergency site. We're prepared to be here at least seven days because we have to get through two storms," Martin said, referring to Hurricanes Iselle and Julio.

The county will be providing transportation to shelter sites onboard school buses until about 5:30 p.m. in Wailuku, Kahului, Lahaina, Napili and Upcountry. Maui Economic Opportunity (MEO) buses are providing transportation to evacuation sites in Hana, Molokai and Lanai.

Rowena Dagdag, the county's deputy director for Public Works, said there were no plans to shut down roads as of Thursday afternoon. She said road crews have been clearing drainage areas and preparing for potential flooding over the past week.

The county's water director, Dave Taylor, added that there are no plans to shut off the county's water supply or wastewater system, but urged residents to conserve water in the event of power outages.

"We want to urge people that once the storm starts, to conserve water because if power goes out, we may not be able to make more water or we may not be able to treat all the wastewater," Taylor said.

Retailers on the ground level of the Queen Kaahumanu Center in Kahului began piling up sandbags across their storefronts Thursday afternoon.

Earlier Thursday morning, boat crews were securing vessels to the docks at Maalaea Harbor in southwest Maui.

Jeff Becklund, senior captain for Triology Excursions, said his company canceled its scheduled snorkeling tours to Molokini for Thursday and Friday.

"We're getting ready for a major situation. The conditions are falling apart. For us, it's not good," he said Thursday morning as his five-man crew tied down the company's 65-foot catamaran.

Becklund said the crew planned to rotate shifts throughout the night to monitor the boat.

"High tide plus the storm surge, that's going to push the waves up pretty big and bring us up to the dock," he said.

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