WAILUKU >> Maui County will hunker down for Tropical Storm Olivia late tonight and Wednesday, opening seven evacuation shelters, granting leave for nonessential county workers and stationing emergency relief personnel in key areas, Maui Mayor Alan Arakawa announced today.
Arakawa made the announcement after an 11 a.m. briefing with Gov. David Ige, state Department of Education representatives and Federal Emergency Management Agency officials in Wailuku. All state public schools and the three charter schools — Kihei Charter, Kualapuu Charter and HTA Charter schools. — in Maui County will be closed Wednesday, DOE officials announced.
“We apologize in advance for any inconvenience that the closure of nonessential offices may cause the public,” Arakawa said. “As with any type of emergency situation, we are striving to balance the need of safety with our overall commitment to provide important county services to our community.”
The mayor said that based on the latest forecast for Olivia running right over Maui, emergency response officials expect 12 hours or so of severe rain, wind and ocean surges that could produce damaging flooding starting around midnight tonight or early Wednesday. As of 11 a.m. today, the storm had maximum sustained winds near 60 mph with stronger gusts.
Arakawa said preparations for Olivia are probably the best Maui has ever made for a severe storm given the amount of resources being provided by the state and federal government.
“This is a team effort,” he said.
As part of the storm preparations, a 35-member FEMA swift water response team has been positioned in Hana, according to Herman Andaya, administrator for the Maui Emergency Management Agency.
FEMA also has commodities stationed on Maui along with medical teams and urban search and rescue personnel.
“We’re here in support of the county and the state,” said Scott Zaffram, a senior FEMA response official in Wailuku.
The National Guard also has a 12-person team stationed in East Maui, Andaya said.
Shelters opening at 6 p.m. tonight with Red Cross help will be at Lahaina Civic Center, Maui High School, Kihei Elementary School, Kalama Intermediate School, Hana Elementary and High School, Molokai High School and Lanai Elementary and High School. The Maui High, Kihei Elementary and Kalama Intermediate locations are pet friendly.
Bus service will continue today but cease tomorrow. Two county park facilities, Hana Bay and Keanae Restrooms, are closing today at 1 p.m. Other county parks will be closed tomorrow. Landfills also will be closed tomorrow and there will be no trash service, Arakawa said.
The mayor also advised the public to store and conserve water when Olivia hits because a power outage could interrupt water service. The suggested supply is one gallon person per day for 14 days.
“The county’s absolute, number one priority is to ensure the safety of our residents and visitors,” he said. We were working all this past weekend to ensure that we’re prepared. Together, let’s all be ready for Olivia.”
Ige’s office also announced that he has granted state employees in Maui County administrative leave and that state offices on Maui, Lanai and Molokai will be closed Wednesday. But, officials said, state employees who fall into any of three categories — departmental disaster/emergency coordinators, disaster response workers, and employees involved in continuing crucial operations or services, such as hospital and correctional workers — are required to report to work, unless it is determined that the employee can be excused.
University of Hawaii-Maui College and all Maui County education centers are closing today at 4:30 p.m. and will remain closed Wednesday. That includes the centers on Molokai and Lanai, as well as in Hana and Lahaina.