Rules are being rewritten as Hawaii prepares for a hurricane amid a pandemic

Rules are being rewritten as Hawaii prepares for a hurricane amid a pandemic

HONOLULU, Hawaii (HawaiiNewsNow) - Tropical Storm Douglas is the first named storm of the season to come near Hawaii – and the first ever during a pandemic.

From stocking up on supplies to sheltering, the rules are being rewritten because of social distancing.

“This year they’ll be more space per person within the shelter. So, 60 square feet per person,” said Maria Lutz, American Red Cross, Pacific Islands Region Disaster Officer. “If there’s more people than they expect, then that amount of space per person may become a little bit less.”

The Red Cross says there will be temperature checks and health screenings, but no one will be turned away.

“If they are symptomatic, they can still come in to the shelter. But they would be put in a separate room, in an isolation room where we would have nurses overseeing them,” Lutz said.

Leaders are thinking outside the box because of social distancing requirements.

For example, partnering with hotels.

“With being able to shelter fewer people, we need more shelters,” said American Red Cross Pacific Islands Region CEO Diane Peters-Nguyen. “Even using hotel rooms for shelters.”

Meanwhile, store managers across the state are encouraging shoppers to get supplies early.

“If we learned anything from Hurricane Lane a couple years ago is that we don’t want to wait until the last minute,” said City Mill Kaimuki supervisor Katherine Hachmeister said.

Normally, stores are packed before a big storm.

Now, City Mill and others are limiting the number of customers allowed in.

“It is a six-foot rule and we can only have so many people in the store at once,” said Hachmeister.

The Red Cross says they need all the volunteers they can get.

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