Mayor Kirk Caldwell, flanked by first responders, urged Oahu residents to prepare for the coming of Hurricane Lane and to shelter in place.
“We do not want to see what happened in Puerto Rico and we do that by making sure we’re prepared,” Caldwell said on Wednesday.
He noted that the slow-moving nature of the approaching storm could spell trouble. “The effects of this hurricane, as it passes the island of Oahu, could last longer than one that just moves by quickly like Hector,” he said. “The rain will be heavy and longer, the wind will be longer in duration, and we could have coastal flooding that could last longer because of the winds that are whipping from the south and hitting the south shore. And so we’re planning for the worst and hoping for the best.”
“We will be discussing whether we set off our sirens to let people know, not maybe immediately, but as it gets closer, as we get more information,” Caldwell said.
“We’ll be looking at things — voluntary evacuations, maybe mandatory evacuations should we see major coastal flooding, for example,” he continued. “We’ll wait and see how that plays out.”
Hiro Toiya, the city’s deputy emergency management director, said evacuation centers opened at 10 a.m. today, but said people should use them only if they don’t have another option.
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“These shelters, most of them have not been designed or hardened to withstand winds greater than a tropical storm,” Toiya said. “They are, however, a safer option than remaining in areas prone to flooding, or exposed ridgelines, or in older homes with wood frames or single-wall construction.” That would include homes built before 1995, or designed prior to 1994, and that have not been retrofitted to withstand storm-force winds, he said. “Some of these folks should consider evacuating to either one of these shelters or consider also evacuating with friends and family who live in safer areas.”
The city’s shelters will be “essentially standing room only,” Toiya said. There will be limited supplies so evacuees should bring their own food, water and hygiene products.
Marc Alexander, executive director of the Office of Housing, said service providers began reaching out to the homeless community Monday and will be coordinating transportation to shelters, he said.
Caldwell ordered about 80 percent of the city’s employees to stay home through the weekend, but to be on standby in case they’re needed as “disaster support workers.” Only police officers, firefighters, paramedics, other first-responders and others designated as “disaster response workers” will be required to go to work today, he said.
Regular service on TheBus and TheHandi-Van ends at 6 p.m. tonight. The Department of Transportation Services will coordinate when service will resume. “That’s going to mean Friday, that could mean Saturday,” Caldwell said. “We’re going to watch how long Hurricane Lane lingers by.”
Starting at 9 a.m. today, special buses with the sign “EVACUATION” will be available free to those who need transport to the city’s 20 shelters. The city will inform the public when and where the EVACUATION buses will be made available, Deputy Transportation Services Director Jon Nouchi said.
Service on a case-by-case basis may be available after 6 p.m. to passengers using TheHandi-Van who need to get to dialysis or other medical appointments.
All of the city’s 299 parks will be closed today until further notice. “It’s particularly important at our beach parks where we don’t want to encourage people to go into the water,” Caldwell said.
The Hanauma Bay Nature Preserve, the Honolulu Zoo, botanical gardens and all municipal golf courses are also shut down. Satellite city halls and motor vehicle licensing offices will be closed as well, the mayor said.
City Facility Maintenance crews have been clearing streams throughout the island since the run-up to Hurricane Hector’s anticipated arrival and that will continue, Caldwell said.
But that may not be enough if things get bad.
“The type of rain events that we’re seeing (recently) are just so different from what we’ve seen historically that no stream can handle the volume of water,” Caldwell said. “When you get 50 inches of rain out in Hanalei in a 24-hour-period, the most in the history of recording rainfall, no amount of what you build is going to handle that, unfortunately.”
Likewise, heavy rains over the next several days may also result in spills from the city’s wastewater system.
“If we get 15-20 inches of rain, we will have spills,” Caldwell said. “As hard (a time) as I have saying that, we’re going to be honest about it and we will be ready and hopefully it will be not major,” Caldwell said.
The Board of Water Supply joined the Department of Environmental Services in asking people to conserve water where possible. Kahikina said that includes limiting the flushing of toilets.
City Water Manager Ernest Lau said the city has seven large generators that power several major pumping stations. “Our average demand is about 145 million gallons a day,” he said. “Most of that depends on electricity to pump water from underground aquifers.”
If power is out after the storm, depending on the damage, “we won’t be able to pump water as we normally do to everybody,” Lau said. “With the seven generators, we can produce probably about 40 million gallons of drinking water from our wells, but that won’t cover full use for about a million people on this island.”
The Board of Water Supply will likely issue a “boil water notice” as a precaution until BWS water quality officials can determine if there’s been any damage to the agency’s water sources, pipes or other parts of its system, Lau said. Residents should either boil their water or treat it with liquid bleach until told otherwise, he said.
CLOSED FOR OPERATIONS
The following closures have been announced in anticipation of Hurricane Lane:
>> All public schools statewide, including charter schools.
>> Kamehameha Schools’ Hawaii island, Maui and Molokai campuses.
>> All University of Hawaii campuses and system offices.
>> These private schools on Oahu that have announced they will be closed: Punahou, ‘Iolani, St. Francis School, St. Michael School, Damien Memorial School, La Pietra, Mid-Pacific Institute, Cole Academy, Hongwanji Mission School, Star of the Sea, Hawaii Baptist Academy, Maryknoll, and St. Andrew’s Schools.
>> The East-West Center’s Honolulu campus.
>> Hawaii Pacific University will close its campuses through Saturday. Oahu campus activities, including those on its downtown and Hawaii Loa campuses, the Oceanic Institute of HPU at Makapuu Point and all Oahu military base locations are canceled through Saturday. Residence halls at Aloha Tower and Hawaii Loa remain open and staffed.
>> Hawaii Medical College
LIBRARIES AND MUSEUMS
>> All public libraries on Hawaii island, Maui, Oahu and Kauai are closed through Friday.
>> Bishop Museum will be closed on Friday and Saturday.
>> Iolani Palace will be closed for tours through Sunday, reopening Monday at 9 a.m. Guests with confirmed reservations will receive full refunds or the option to reschedule.
>> Hawaiian Mission Houses Historic Site and Archives.
>> USS Arizona Memorial.
>> Battleship Missouri Memorial.
PARKS AND RECREATION
>> Honolulu Zoo.
>> Waikiki Aquarium.
>> Parks on Oahu, including beach parks island-wide starting Thursday, including Hanauma Bay. Camping permits are being retracted. Walk-in class registration for Fall Programs has been postponed for many park sites, including facilities from Aiea to Makaha and Wahiawa, and the windward and North shore sites.
>> Haleakala National Park summit and Kipahulu districts, including the Hosmer Grove Campgrounds. All cabin reservations through Friday have been canceled.
>> Puuhonua o Honaunau and Kalaoko-Honokohau national historical parks.
>> Camping and lodging in state parks across the state (except Kaua’i); overnight use of Kaena Point State Park; beginning Thursday night, camping in Kaua’i parks; state parks for Oahu and Kauai go into effect Thursday morning; Waianapanapa State Park on Maui; Nuuanu Pali State Wayside Park; Haena State Park and Napali Coast State Wilderness Park remain closed due to flooding in April; All Division of Forestry and Wildlife lands, including forest reserves, natural area reserves, game management areas, wildlife sanctuaries, public hunting areas and Na Ala Hele trails.
CLOSED FOR OPERATIONS
>> All public school interscholastic events are postponed through Sunday, including eight varsity football games on Oahu on Friday and six on Saturday.
>> UH’s Rainbow Wahine Soccer Invitational is canceled. The games will not be rescheduled.
>> No trash pickup on Oahu Friday and Saturday. Bulky trash will be picked up through Thursday, and then be suspended Friday until further notice.
>> Hawaii island and Maui County courts and facilities through Friday.
>> The state Supreme Court extended filings and hearings scheduled for that period at 2nd and 3rd Circuit courts to Monday. Hearings canceled due to the closure will be rescheduled.
>> Oahu and Kauai courthouses will be closed Thursday and Friday.
>> Hawaii County transfer stations and landfills.
>> Maui residents with regularly scheduled Thursday trash pick-up should put their bins out on Saturday.
>> Department of Veterans Affairs Kona, Hilo, and the Maui Community Based Outpatient Clinic; Molokai VA Clinic, Leeward and Kauai CBOC; Spark Matsunaga VA Medical Center Ambulatory Care Clinic will be closed through Saturday.
>> Kauai County offices and the Kauai Department of Water offices.
>> Offices at the Hawaii State Legislature will be closed on Thursday and Friday.
>> On Hawaii island, there will be no mail delivery and all post offices will be closed on Thursday; no mail pickup from blue USPS boxes.
>> Maui county mail will be delivered but all post offices will be closed on Thursday; there will be no mail pickup from blue USPS boxes.
>> Oahu mail will be delivered and all post offices will be open on Thursday; mail will be picked up from blue USPS mail boxes.
>> Kauai mail will be delivered but all post offices will be closed on Thursday; there will be no mail pickup from blue USPS mail boxes.
HONOLULU CITY AND COUNTY
>> Satellite city halls and driver licensing locations on Oahu are closed at least through Friday. Driver training and driver’s license appointments are suspended Thursday and Friday. The Department of Customer Services will be contacting those who had a road test cancelled in order to reschedule. A decision on Saturday appointments is pending.
>> Bikeshare Hawaii Biki service at 11:59 p.m. Thursday.
>> Young Brothers sailings for the remainder of the week, and Young Brothers ports statewide will not be accepting cargo.
>> Catholic Charities Hawai’i offices statewide will close on Thursday and Friday. The Lanakila Multi-Purpose Senior Center in Kalihi will also be closed on Thursday, Friday and Saturday.
>> Kaiser Permanente: Hawaii island clinics closed Thursday; Kihei and Lahaina clinics on Thursday, all other Maui clinics closed Friday; Maui Lani Medical Office, Maui Lani Elua Clinic, and Wailuku Medical Office will close at noon Thursday; all Oahu clinics open Thursday and close Friday; Lihue clinic closed Friday.
>> Child and Family Services on all islands.
>> YMCA of Honolulu branches closed and programs canceled.
>> American Savings Bank branches on Hawaii island, Maui, Molokai and the UH-Manoa campus Branch will be closed on Thursday and Friday. In addition, Oahu and Kauai branches will close at 1 p.m. Thursday and remain closed on Friday.
>> Bank of Hawaii branches on Maui closed Thursday and Friday; On Oahu all branches and in-store branches will open from 8:30 a.m. to noon on Thursday and close Friday; all five branches on Kauai will be open Thursday and close on Friday.