Shelter from storms


POSTED: Saturday, June 20, 2009

Question: This being the hurricane season, do you know of a listing of all hurricane shelters here on Oahu?

Answer: You can find the most comprehensive and up-to-date list on the Hawaii State Civil Defense Web site, www.scd.hawaii.gov.

Most of the sites are public schools on all the islands, but they also include the Hawaii Convention Center, Neal Blaisdell Center, Makiki District Park and Brigham Young University Hawaii on Oahu.

The list also indicates which shelters can accommodate pets and/or people with “;special needs”;—basically, people who may need extra care, but are not so seriously ill or disabled as to require hospitalization.

When we last checked the Oahu list, there were 162 Public Emergency Shelters, 100 of them designated “;S”; for people with special health needs and 31 “;P,”; meaning they can accommodate household pets.

“;As we add new shelters, (they) will be posted online, so (the list) will be frequently updated,”; said Ray Lovell, spokesman for State Civil Defense.

The designating, opening and managing of the shelters is a cooperative effort involving the state, counties and American Red Cross.

When an emergency actually occurs, “;It will come down to the counties determining which shelters they will open,”; Lovell said. “;Management of those shelters will be by the Red Cross.”;

State Civil Defense tries to provide as many shelters as possible within public buildings, mostly schools, suggesting ways to upgrade or retrofit the facilities to acceptable standards.

At the same time, it is working on “;private sheltering,”; such as with condominium associations, educating them about how they can provide safe shelter for their own residents during an emergency, Lovell said.

Regarding pets, “;We would not displace a person for a pet,”; Lovell said. “;However, there are places where we can shelter pets that we can't shelter people.”;

Those would include areas such as rooms where shop classes are held. In some cases, modifications need to be made.

“;It's kind of like the same thing we have to do for shelters for people,”; Lovell said. “;We look for areas in these public buildings, primarily schools, where you can put animals in cages and they'd be fine.”;

So, whenever work has to be done on a school by the state Department of Accounting and General Services, “;we try to make sure to be in on that,”; Lovell said. So, for example, work would be done on the windows of the shop room to meet specifications for shuttering.

People then could bring their pets in carriers or cages and their pets would be housed within those designated pet rooms.

“;We've worked with the Humane Society to manage the pet-friendly part of the shelter,”; Lovell said.

Regarding special needs shelters, it's mostly a matter of being able to set up generators and, in some cases, provide beds.

“;Special needs shelters would be for people who really couldn't be in a normal public shelter, but their health is not bad enough where they would have to be in a hospital,”; Lovell said. “;They might need electric power and those sort of things.”;



To a selfless fellow named Shane who was driving a Penske truck down the Pali Highway towards Kailua, during a busy late afternoon at the end of May. He noticed my van pulled over just beyond Kapaa Quarry Road headed up the Pali. Just as I was about to call AAA, Shane turned around, pulled up and offered to fix my flat tire. Amazingly, it was like having a mobile car garage as Shane had everything needed in the back of that truck and proceeded to fix the flat—not merely change to the spare—inflate it to the proper pressure and be on his way in less than 20 minutes. All with a smile on his face. He made my day!—Kim Osborn Mullen, Kailua