FEMA, state civil defense prepared for next major hurricane

Maj. Gen. Robert Lee
Maj. Gen. Robert Lee
Nancy Ward
Nancy Ward

By Leland Kim - bio | email

HONOLULU (KHNL) -  Are you ready for the next hurricane?  The state is, thanks in part to the Federal Emergency Management Agency or FEMA.  They have a plan for responding to and recovering from a Category 4 hurricane.

It's a major collaborative effort among a lot of different agencies at various levels.  The goal is to make sure we are ready before the next major hurricane hits.

Hurricane Iniki devastated the island of Kaua'i back in 1992.  It caused $1.8 billion worth of damages.     That's why the state civil defense and FEMA are putting major resources in preparation efforts.

"Real important for the agencies to be number one, working together in concert, so that we don't have duplication of efforts, and the right amount of effort is supplied at the right location," said Maj. Gen. Robert Lee, the state civil defense director.

"We are going to have to ensure that our supply chain, our movement of commodities, resources, equipment are ready and able to fill that supply chain as fast and quickly as possible," said Nancy Ward, FEMA's regional administrator for the West coast.

Ward and Gen. Lee signed the "Operation Catastrophic Plans."  The documents will guide federal and state agencies on how to proceed when the next category four hurricane hits Hawaii.

"We're all in this together," said Ward. "We all have to understand all of our capabilities and capacities and where we might need to support each other, and we can't be learning that in the middle of a disaster."

Even a Category 3 hurricane can be devastating. In a demonstration, a piece of wood traveling 34 miles an hour can cause major damage to a house made of a standard 5/8 inch single wall.  A double thick wall can withstand the same impact.

Even though Hawaii is several thousand miles from the continental U.S., Ward says FEMA's commitment to the islands is stronger than ever.

"So we have to be able to know in a moment's notice or no notice events, we have to be ready to start filling that supply chain and by every resource possible," said Ward.  "So there is no gap in our support to the state."

FEMA's commitment is reassuring to state leaders.

"It's very significant to know that help is right around the corner," said Gen. Lee.

And officials also want to remind people how important it is to stay prepared.  The guideline is to have five days worth of emergency supplies, food and water, just in case.