State: We don't have enough shelter space for everyone

8/21 10 p.m.: Hurricane Lane packing sustained winds of 160 mph
Published: Aug. 21, 2018 at 4:42 PM HST|Updated: Aug. 21, 2018 at 9:04 PM HST
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HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - Hawaii doesn't have enough hurricane shelter space to meet the "estimated demand" of the population.

That was the conclusion of a state report issued earlier this year identifying the hazards that the islands face and how to handle them.

Since 1950, the state's only taken a direct hit three times with Dot, Iwa and Iniki.

Forecasters are warning that Hurricane Lane could make landfall on at least one island or could come "dangerously close" to the state.

Ahead of the storm, emergency management officials are urging residents to be prepared to evacuate — or shelter in place if it's safe.

"We do not have enough shelters for everyone," said Tom Travis, head of Hawaii's Emergency Management Agency, at a news conference Tuesday. "If you're not in a flood zone, most citizens should remain in their homes. If you are in a flood zone, you should actively seek shelters elsewhere."

The state report issued earlier this year said that while Hawaii has a population of about 1.4 million people, there are only 277,376 available shelter spaces.

Here's the island-by-island breakdown:

  • Oahu: 182,797 shelter spaces
  • Big Island: 36,539 shelter spaces
  • Kauai: 17,395 shelter spaces
  • Maui: 40,645 shelter spaces

"It's obvious there aren't enough shelters," said Brig. Gen. Moses Kaoiwi, after the report was issued. "If you have a home you can shelter in, it's probably better to stay at home."

And while most hurricane shelters are in public schools, emergency officials say some of those buildings might not be strong enough to withstand disaster.

To address the lack of shelter space, the state has urged residents to harden their homes.

And in the event you do end up going to a shelter during an emergency, be prepared to bring your own supply of food, water and bedding.

Another warning: Not all shelters are pet-friendly.

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