Individuals need to prepare for next hurricane
The government announced that it expects two to three tropical cyclones in the central Pacific basin this year.
THE number of hurricanes to hit the mainland is expected to be above normal again this year but slightly below average in the central Pacific basin. As Katrina reminded the Gulf Coast last year and as Kauai residents can remember from Iniki in 1992, a single hurricane can be devastating. The state has much to do in preparation for that event
, leaving individuals to increase their own readiness.
Four of last year's seven major hurricanes to develop in the North Atlantic struck the mainland, and all four had winds above 155 mph. This year, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration forecasts four to six hurricanes in the North Atlantic to be severe, with winds exceeding 111 mph. The record 15 hurricanes that formed in the area last year and the 13 to 16 expected this year are both above the 40-year average of 11.
The NOAA in Honolulu expects two to three tropical cyclones in the central Pacific basin this year. National Weather Service hurricane experts say four to five tropical storms form or cross into the area in a typical year, with two reaching hurricane strength.
The state has set a goal of 462,000 evacuation shelter spaces to be fully prepared for a major hurricane. However, it is 124,000 spaces short of that goal and it will add, at best, 14,000 more during the next three to four years, according to state hurricane-preparation planner Danny Tengan.
The state and counties also are planning to add shelters for pets -- generally turned away from shelters for people -- and for chronically ill people. The acutely ill will remain at hospitals and nursing homes in the event of a hurricane, according to Ed Teixeira, state vice director of civil defense.
Because of the shortage, people are asked to prepare to stay at their homes unless they live on windy ridgetops, in tsunani inundation zones or in older, single-wall homes built before the post-Iniki building code requirements. Tengan also recommends that friends and families plan to gather in the most hurricane-resistant house among them for protection against the storm.
Likewise, federal officials are stressing individual preparedness. "Hawaii is vulnerable because of our isolation," said Jim Weyman, director of NOAA's Central Pacific Hurricane Center. "Everyone needs a plan." That includes being familiar with evacuation centers, establishing common meeting places for family members, assembling disaster supply kits and stocking up on food, medicine and other essentials.