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by Nicole Loschke, staff writer

 

Because of this, Lewis Trusty’s mass media class wanted to develop a handbook to help students prepare for hurricanes.

In the fall of 2005 this group of HPU students began collaborating their personal experiences and concerns about hurricane preparedness, disaster management, and aftermath.

“ After Katrina I started asking people in class, ‘Do you know what to do when a hurricane hits?’” said Natalie McGeehan, who has experienced at least four hurricanes in the Caribbean and Maryland. “Being prepared for a hurricane is very important because you don’t have someone telling you what to do, it’s very scary.”

Though hurricanes rarely hit Hawai‘i, when they do, it can be devastating. In 1992, Hurricane Iniki, a category four hurricane, hit the Hawaiian Islands with winds up to 100 mph. The island of Kaua‘i was in the hurricane’s direct path. Iniki destroyed over 14,000 homes and caused more than $500 million in damage.

The mass media class developed a handbook for HPU students to learn how to prepare for a hurricane, what do to during the hurricane, and how to deal with the aftermath. As stated in the introduction of the handbook, “…we thought that the best way to help is to take responsibility and educate our own fellow Hawai’i Pacific University student friends so that they can have the resources to prepare themselves for the hurricane season.”

Adam Yeatts, who played an important role in the creation of the handbook, spent a day with the O‘ahu Civil Defense Agency.

“ The best part of this project was that I got to spend a lot of time learning about mass media,” Yeatts said. “The most interesting thing was the fact that the state of Hawai‘i has a plan, but it’s rusty. When you read it, it’s rusty. I thought that we were going to be able to use Hawai‘i’s state plan for our handbook, but not much was there.”

The handbook that Yeatts, McGeehan and the rest of the class prepared is an attempt to get all the necessary information into an easy to read, fun, yet informative, manual for students.

“I was given a chance to do something meaningful, this one hit close to home because I have lifetime experiences with hurricanes,” said McGeehan. “Say a hurricane threatened O‘ahu, I can see miscommunication, chaos, a lot of scared young individuals who don’t know what to do. If I don’t share what I know I would feel responsible for that chaos and devastation in some way.”

The Hurricane Preparedness Manual has five chapters. Chapter one discusses the inner workings of a hurricane, what it is, how it forms, Hawaiian hurricane history, and an interview with HPU student Olena Rubin who survived Hurricane Iniki.

Chapter two touches on how to prepare, what to bring, the differences between hurricane watches, warning, and evacuation signals, and shelters to evacuate to.

Chapter three looks at how other colleges across the country prepare their students.

Chapter four gives various recourses, people to contact and tips from organizations like FEMA and the American Red Cross.

Lastly, chapter five gives students a hurricane preparedness template so they can plan and prepare for a disaster with friends and fellow students.

Even though Trusty, McGeehan, and Yeatts all agree that the manual still needs a professional touch and approval from HPU administration, they all would like to work towards developing strategies to inform the students about this valuable resource.

Being a HPU student means being a global citizen, with this informative manual being created by HPU students, for HPU students, the responsibility of global citizenship is well on its way.

“I know how human beings get going into hurricanes; another side of humanity is brought out during natural disasters,” McGeehan said. “If we prepare student to our best ability, they can help others, and parents can rest assured that if anything goes wrong their child, our friend, HPU students, know what to do.”

Interested students and faculty can receive copies of the Hurricane Preparedness Manual, by contacting Nicole Loschke at nloschke@campus.hpu.edu.

 

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