HONOLULU, Hawaii (HawaiiNewsNow) - Maui County and the Big Island are poised to be first to feel the effects of Hurricane Douglas — and emergency response agencies are planning accordingly.
Officials are identifying emergency shelter areas, but residents are being told they may have to shelter in place because of reduced emergency shelter capacity due to COVID-19.
“We have limited shelter space due to COVID-19 guidelines, so we are urging the public to make preparations now to possible shelter in place at your home, or a family or friend’s home,” said Maui Emergency Management Agency administrator Herman Andaya.
Maui County officials are preparing as much as they can for the possibility of torrential rain and damaging floods, like those seen when Tropical Storm Olivia made landfall on the Valley Isle two years ago.
“If we had those kind of rain events like we had in 2016 on the Wailuku River, there’s no way to prepare ourselves for that, so we’ll do our best,” said Maui County Mayor Mike Victorino.
Meanwhile, in Hilo, the HPM Building Supply store was seeing more customers.
“It’s getting busy,” said HPM operations manager Brian Brokaw. “Yeah, we’re seeing a lot of activity here, a lot of people coming in the store.”
Brokaw said customers are coming in for the usual hurricane supplies, such as generators, bottled water, and lots of plywood.
The store has been stocking up quickly.
“We’re bringing in 5/8 inch plywood material specifically for hurricane preparation, for boarding up windows, because they recommend 5/8 thickness for hurricane prep,” said Brokaw.
Hawaii County Mayor Harry Kim said he’s also preparing to shut down county parks for the weekend because of Douglas.
“This goes for all coastal recreational areas,” said Kim. “If you had things planned for Saturday, Sunday or Monday, cancel it right now and be safe.”
Both Maui and the Big Island may have smaller shelter capacity because of COVID guidelines, but mayors say hotels and resorts may step up if needed.
“The hotels being -- many of them just being absolutely closed -- have offered and will be looked upon, if necessary, to be putting people there also,” said Victorino.
“I know people are concerned, and they should be concerned because it is a big storm,” said Kim.