|Hurricanes Katrina and Rita devastated the Gulf Coast of the
United States last month. If a hurricane were to hit Hawai‘i,
will you or your classmates at HPU know what to do? Where to
go? Who to call for help? If you didn’t follow the Honolulu
Advertiser’s week long series on hurricane preparedness,
here are some answers to questions you should ask now, before
it is too late and a hurricane is upon us.
Hawai‘i is a hot spot for hurricanes because of its tropical
weather and Central Pacific location. The last hurricane that
struck the Hawai‘i was Sept. 11, 1992. At 5:30 a.m. Hurricane
Iniki, a category 5 storm, hit the island of Kaua‘i head
on. The neighbor islands got heavy rain and high tides, but some
parts of Kaua‘i still have not been rebuilt.
What will happen with the next hurricane is unpredictable. The
National Weather Service projects a 70 percent chance of above
normal hurricane activity in 2005, while William Gray, an atmospheric
scientist at Colorado State University predicted 15 named storms
during the 2005 Hurricane Season, well above the long term average
of 9.6. We’ve already had them, and the season is not over.
Immediate preparation for a hurricane means building a supply
kit that includes sufficient amounts of water—a gallon
per person per day—and nonperishable food, enough for three
to seven days, (including special food for infants and elderly).
See checklist, this page, for what else it should include.
Protecting your home means arranging security and insurance coverage
in advance, as well as wood to cover windows, plastic sheeting
to cover furnishings if the roof blows off, and lumber to reinforce
roofs and doors.
Long range preparations include even more options, from plywood
clips designed to allow easy storm shutter installation to roof
straps that actually lock your roof beams to the struts that
form the walls of your home.
Living in an area that is a hurricane hot spot, Hawai‘i
homeowners must look into hurricane and flood insurance. These
options must be purchased separately from homeowner’s insurance.
Right after Iniki, homeowners hurricane insurance was required
by law and paid into a state hurricane fund. More recently private
insurers, notably Zephyr, have taken over.
Flood insurance is separate from this. Look in the front of the
telephone directory for maps that indicate areas that flood easily
during storms and tsunamis. If you live in or even near one of
these areas, consider arranging flood insurance.
If your home is in an area susceptible to flooding, flood insurance
may be possible through one of the Federal Emergency Management
Agency’s (FEMA) flood insurance program. The National Flood
Insurance Program (NFIP), for example, provides coverage that
individuals cannot get it with their homeowner’s insurance.
NFIP can be contacted through the O‘ahu Civil Defense Agency.
You might also visit one of the numerous Web sites such as accurcoverage-.com,
which provides information about wind and flood insurance and
advice on restoring homes and finding financial help to pay for
When a hurricane occurs, community shelters are provided in endangered
communities throughout the state. Normally, a family’s
shelter is the school nearest their home. To be sure, call the
O‘ahu Civil Defense Agency at (808) 523-4121.
Shelters may be opened selectively depending on the severity
of a storm or other incidents. The radio and television will
broadcast shelter designations and opening schedules. Shelters
are on a first come, first serve basis and will not accept pets.
You must bring your own emergency supplies.
If you are unable to get to a shelter and must stay in your home,
look for a storm-safe room: a roomy downstairs closet without
windows or skylight, located in the center of your home—i.e.,
without and exterior walls. Limited access—only one door—and
several walls surrounding it enhance security.
For more information about hurricane preparedness, contact
the O‘ahu Civil Defense Agency at (808) 523-4121.
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