Gov. David Ige and state officials Friday continued to urge residents to prepare ahead for Hurricane Douglas as the storm continues on its path toward Hawaii.
The storm at 8 p.m. Friday remained a major Category 3 hurricane and was about 610 miles east of Hilo, with maximum sustained winds of 115 mph. It was traveling west-northwest at 20 mph.
A hurricane watch was in effect for the Big Island, Maui County and Oahu. That means hurricane conditions are possible in the watch area within 36 to 48 hours.
National Weather Service forecasters warned residents to prepare for numerous potential impacts as early as Saturday night, including winds that could damage buildings and cause power outages, heavy rain, flooding and large, destructive surf for east-facing shores. Gradual weakening was expected to continue through the weekend, but Douglas is still forecast to be near hurricane strength when it nears the islands.
Ige, who on Thursday issued a “pre-landfall emergency proclamation” authorizing the quick release of state funds for disaster- related relief, said he was prepared to activate additional National Guard personnel if necessary to support preparations for Hurricane Douglas.
In addition, Ige said he would allow out-of-state travelers and returning residents in the state’s mandatory 14-day quarantine to get hurricane supplies as a last resort under modified rules.
“I would like to remind everyone who is in quarantine that you should remain in quarantine to the extent possible,” said Ige during a Friday afternoon news conference. “If you need supplies, please ask a friend and others to provide and help you acquire them. As a last resort, if you need to, you can break quarantine to get the needed supplies.”
Ige asked that those in quarantine maintain physical distance from others while getting necessary supplies, however, and opt for noncontact retail transactions, such as curbside pickup, to the extent possible.
Visitors and residents in quarantine already should have made arrangements for the delivery of food, he said, but would be allowed to leave specifically to get supplies if they have no other options, and return straight back to their place of quarantine.
In addition, Ige said those in quarantine should contact the state Health Department or emergency responders to get to a public shelter if they feel unsafe at their quarantine site during the hurricane.
Just Friday morning, special agents from the state Department of the Attorney General arrested a 20-year-old woman from Alabama who reportedly danced in a retail store and dined out with companions days after flying into Hawaii, violating the quarantine rule.
State officials said she was the 24th person on Oahu to be arrested for violating the mandatory quarantine order. Violators are subject to up to one year in jail and up to $5,000 in fines.
Ige did not have a statewide count of emergency shelters Friday, and said counties were still finalizing them and would be the ones to provide that information to its residents.
Due to physical distancing guidelines during the pandemic, however, more space will be needed between evacuees, and therefore more sites will be needed, and more volunteers to staff them.
All counties have worked to identify additional shelter space, he said, and established guidelines that will include distancing and increased sanitizing. The state currently has no formal arrangements in place to use hotel rooms as shelter.
If an outbreak were to occur at one or several shelters, however, Ige said the state Health Department would respond and quickly identify others who may have been exposed. He said the department has available hotel rooms if an infected resident needs to be moved and isolated as quickly as possible.
Honolulu Mayor Kirk Caldwell on Friday signed an emergency proclamation allowing indoor gatherings to exceed 50 people in preparation for the hurricane.
He urged residents to shelter in place at home, if possible, and to seek shelter at a family, neighbor or friend’s home before seeking city-provided shelters. Caldwell said he expected to announce the locations of the shelters today.
Officials emphasized that all residents should prepare a 14-day emergency supply kit with the usual provisions as well as face masks, hand sanitizer and sanitizing wipes, which should be ready to take to the shelter with them.
Jessica Lani Rich, president and CEO of the Visitor Aloha Society of Hawaii, said she has not received many calls about the hurricane so far. VASH has reminded many visitors about the mandatory 14-day quarantine and provided them with phone numbers of grocers that make deliveries.
“A lot of the visitors we’re seeing that are coming in are coming basically to visit family,” she said.
She said, however, that it was nice they would have the freedom to get supplies for the hurricane, if necessary, and that she hopes they will not take advantage of it.
“I really want to ask all of you to prepare for Hurricane Douglas,” said Ige. “It is a powerful storm that is forecasted to affect the islands significantly. Stay away from east-facing shores as we do expect storm surge as well as high surf. We do expect rain on the windward sides of the islands, beginning to impact the islands Saturday evening into Sunday, and so everyone please prepare your preparedness kit.”