KIHEI, MAUI (HawaiiNewsNow) - As Hurricane Irma bears down on Florida, disaster analysts with the Pacific Disaster Center on Maui are working round-the-clock.
"We're in direct coordination with FEMA and with the state of Florida," said Erin Hughey, PDC's director of disaster services.
Every six hours the Kihei based center sends Florida's authorities reports on the storm's potential impacts to people based on population estimates.
"Within a computer we can combine the hazard information with the information on people in the buildings that are in those areas and project what might occur," PDC senior advisor Doug Bausch said.
PDC's unique computer program is called DisasterAware. It produces maps and graphs that are helping Florida's officials decide what areas to evacuate.
"It's the PDC type information that's coming in that shows where critical infrastructures are. Where are all the hospitals? Where are all the schools? Where are the nuclear power plants?" Hughey said.
The center is also calculating potential property damage based on Irma's strength and the sturdiness of homes and buildings in Florida.
"You could have well-built buildings that are being taken out by debris from poorly constructed neighboring buildings," Bausch said.
Florida authorities and FEMA will also rely on the PDC's reports after Irma passes and damage assessments begin.
"All of that information dictates the type of services that are provided by emergency managers so that we can get the right resources into the area to reduce losses and save lives," Hughey said.