These are anxious times indeed: Between the ongoing coronavirus pandemic and now Hurricane Douglas threatening Hawaii, it is a “perfect storm,” as the state health director put it, as well as “a double whammy,” as Honolulu Mayor Kirk Caldwell noted.
Everyone in Hawaii must be hyper-alert and vigilant this weekend, as Douglas was forecast to move over the Hawaiian islands, bringing with it the likelihood of strong winds, dangerous surf, heavy rainfall and floodwaters.
As of Friday afternoon, Douglas was a Category 3 hurricane on a track to reach Hawaii this weekend at “near hurricane strength”; it was moving west-northeast at 18 mph with maximum sustained winds of 115 mph. It was predicted to start impacting the Big Island tonight, and Oahu around Sunday night. The storm already has caused a slew of event cancellations statewide — and everyone should heed officials’ warnings to safely shelter in place for the next few few days.
By now, residents should be prepared with a 14-day supply kit of food, water and medicine, as well as flashlights and a radio with batteries. And due to coronavirus concerns, every household emergency kit also should include extra hand sanitizers and face coverings. These past four months of coronavirus shutdowns also have shown food insecurity to be a deep problem, evidenced by long lines at food giveaways. While stocking up on two weeks of food for one’s household, consider getting extra for a kupuna or neighbor in need.
By now, after days of warnings, gutters should have been cleared, and outside items vulnerable to high winds been stowed or removed. Obviously, such preps apply to city crews responsible for clearing storm drains and streams, and for securing construction sites.
The severity of the double threat quickly spurred Hawaii’s congressional delegation to send a letter Thursday to President Donald Trump, seeking immediate intervention and support. Proactively, the federal government is urged to help minimize proximity risks during emergency operations by having critical hygiene supplies, such as personal protective equipment (PPE), readily available — and should it be needed, testing capability to identify and react promptly to infections.
This weekend, stay vigilant, stay informed, stay calm. More than ever before, Hawaii’s people must work together to contain damage from today’s twin threats. Warding off the natural disaster of Hurricane Douglas is outside our capabilities — but when it comes to the coronavirus, prevention is in our own hands. Just wash them often — and when it’s safer to go outside after Douglas passes, mask up.