HONOLULU, Hawaii (HawaiiNewsNow) - Thirty Meter Telescope protesters and members of law enforcement are packing up tents and putting loose objects away as Hurricane Erick churns south of the state, threatening winds upwards of 40 mph as early as Thursday night.
On Thursday afternoon, TMT protesters directed those at the Mauna Kea camp to pack up smaller tents ― or any structures unable to withstand gusts up to 50 mph.
Protesters had a mandatory meeting at 1 p.m. to go over preparations.
Previously, leaders of the protest camp said they would evacuate the area ahead of the storm if the situation warranted. But they also said they would leave a small contingent behind to weather out the storm, saying they were worried the state would try to access the summit if they left entirely.
For nearly three weeks, the protesters have blocked the only road to the planned site for the $1 billion Thirty Meter Telescope.
Janet Snyder, Hawaii County Civil Defense Agency spokeswoman, said all temporary structures on Mauna Kea must be removed by Thursday night.
It wasn’t immediately clear whether the protesters had agreed with that request, but Snyder said the county is happy with the “very good cooperation from everyone concerned.”
She said the temporary structures that members of law enforcement are using at the site will also be removed. “These types of structures cannot withstand 40 mph winds let alone something higher than that,” Snyder said. “And up there, winds tend to get extremely strong.”
This story will be updated.