City officials have pushed back a decision on whether Honolulu will open evacuation shelters to an 8 a.m. update Tuesday on now-Tropical Storm Olivia.
“Although it’s encouraging that the storm has been downgraded from a hurricane, we still need to stay alert, particularly since the storm has continued on a slightly more northerly track than initially anticipated.” said Mayor Kirk Caldwell in a statement tonight. “We will continue to prepare for the onset of this storm, as we have seen just how much damage a tropical storm, or even its remnants, can bring.”
He said the city will evaluate whether 8 shelters will open depending on the National Weather Service’s 8 a.m. Tuesday update.
A briefing on Olivia will be held at 8 a.m. Tuesday at the city’s Emergency Operations Center.
Gov. David Ige led a press conference today attended by Mayor Kirk Caldwell and representatives from Maui County, the Federal Emergency Management Agency and the Hawaii Emergency Management Agency about an hour before the Central Pacific Hurricane Center downgraded Hurricane Olivia to a tropical storm shortly before 5 p.m.
During last month’s Hurricane Lane, city officials were prepared to open 20 evacuation centers across Oahu inside public schools. With Olivia, Caldwell said the city was preparing to open only seven shelters on city and county land and one provided by a private organization.
“We don’t want to overly impact DOE (the state Department of Education),” Caldwell said.
The city also has drafted an emergency proclamation in preparation for Olivia. But Caldwell said he was waiting for today’s 5 p.m. update before deciding whether to sign it.
Like Ige, Caldwell urged people to remain vigilant.
“A tropical storm is just as dangerous as a Cateogry 1 (hurricane),” Caldwell said. “So please folks don’t let your guard down. …. Be prepared.”
An emergency proclamation that Ige already has signed allows for heavy equipment and personel to be staged across the state to respond to storm-related problems.
Between Olivia and three hurricanes bearing down on the east coast, Dolph Diemont, FEMA’s Seattle-based federal coordinating officer, told reporters at the state capitol that “We’re stretched very thin at FEMA right now with four hurricanes hitting the United States.”
But, Diemont vowed, “We have everything we need to respond. We won’t feel the impact of (Category 4 Hurricane) Florence here in Hawaii.”
Watch Hawaii Gov. David Ige and other officials brief the public today on preparations for Tropical Storm Olivia: