Wednesday, Nov 25, 2015    

Oahu gets all-clear as Iselle passes

By Gregg K. Kakesako

POSTED: 06:37 a.m. HST, Aug 08, 2014

Mayor Kirk Caldwell gave the all clear after the tropical storm warning for Oahu was officially lifted Friday afternoon.

Scheduled refuse collection will resume tomorrow, Caldwell said. City employees return to work Monday, but city parks will open this weekend, he said. HandiVan service will resume today and the Honolulu Zoo and Hanauma Bay will open tomorrow.

Caldwell said officials were told that Hurricane Julio, the season's 10th eastern Pacific storm, has gained strength over the past 24 hours, drawing some extra power from Iselle. However, Julio's latest track is now more northerly than originally forecast.

"That means the impact area is outside of Oahu" when it passes near here Sunday or Monday, the mayor said Friday morning.

Police closed Nuuanu Pali Drive in both directions this morning after a tree fell on the road.

Hawaiian Electric Co. reported that about 1:30 p.m. Friday, crews were responding to power outages affecting about 1,500 customer in Hauula, Kaaawa, Kahuku and other parts of Windward Oahu.

Earlier Friday, HECO restorerd power to some 4,500 customers in parts of Makaha, Maunawili, Wahiawa and portions of Leeward Oahu.

Although bus service on Oahu was cancelled because of the storm, the city allowed 28 express bus run to operate to begin at 4:30 a.m. to get workers to Waikiki to service the more than 94,000 visitors there, the mayor said. The express bus runs ended at 7:30 a.m.

More than half of Waikiki's visitor industry employees take the bus into the area, said George Szigeti, president of the Hawaii Lodging and Tourism Association. Regular bus service will be restored after the storm has passed Oahu.

Oahu is now under a flood advisory, after a gauge showed rain falling at 2 inches an hour at Punaluu from a nearly stationary system. Other locations in the advisory include Turtle Bay, Pupukea, Laie, Kahuku and Hauula.

The advisory comes ahead of Tropical Storm Iselle's closest approach to Oahu this afternoon.

Caldwell said the tall, twin peaks of Mauna Loa and Mauna Kea tore apart the storm apart, forcing it to veer slightly to the south. That means the bulk of the storm may pass further south of Oahu than expected, the mayor said.

"We were really expecting the strongest winds hitting Oahu between 10 a.m and 2 p.m. It's slowing down and may be here just after noon," Caldwell said. "I am breathing a little sigh of relief."

Caldwell said all of Oahu's 142 polling places will open on time at 7 a.m. since none have been used as evacuation shelters. "I want voting to go as smooth as possible," Caldwell added.

There were at least 2,000 people who took refuge from the weather at Red Cross evacuation shelters throughout the state.

He said 590 people spent the night in 10 Oahu evacuation centers.

Caldwell said the largest group was at Nanakuli High School with 275 people, followed by McKinley High with 187 and Kaimuki High with 58. The smallest numbers was at Waialua High School with 2, and 5 at Campbell High School.

Ray Moody, a Red Cross volunteer shelter manager, said that there were at least  20 homeless families, who frequent the Kakaako area, that spent the night sleeping on the hardwood floor in the McKinley gym.

"There were people waiting at 3 p.m.," Moody added,  "but the shelter didn't open until 10."

People seeking relief from the storm were asked to bring their own food. No cots were set up. Anyone seeking shelter had to bring their own blankets. No pets were allowed.

"We are only providing restroom facilities," Moody said. "Just a roof to keep off the wind and the rain and that's all we are providing."

Donna Ching, a volunteer with the Hawaii Medical Reserve Corps, said that three nurses volunteered their time to provide medical help. Ching said 19 people volunteered to provide medical help at the 10 Oahu temporary storm shelters.

Moody commended McKinley's principal, Ron Okamura, and his staff, especially custodial members, who provided "superb" support.

"The weather will tell us what to do," said Moody responding to a question about how long the people will be allowed to stay there.

Caldwell declared Oahu to be in a state of emergency or disaster Thursday, allowing him to exert emergency powers during times of disaster. He then announced that all nonessential city services will close Friday, asking about 8,500 workers to stay home.

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