HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - Honolulu police officers, state officials and outreach workers canvassed various communities on Wednesday to warn Oahu's homeless population about Hurricane Lane and urge them to seek shelter.
"We're going into a lot of areas that might not be accessible to a standard patrol officer. We go down to the rivers and the stream beds. We're going to the parks and try to hit every part of the homeless community," said Sgt. Joseph O'Neal with HPD's Community Outreach Division.
At last count there were more than 2,000 unsheltered homeless people on Oahu.
HPD's new unit called H.E.L.P. hopes to connect with at least half of those individuals before the storm. The acronym is short for Health, Efficiency, Long-term, Partnerships. It's a multi-agency task force where officers partner with state officials and various outreach providers to help Honolulu's homeless.
"There was an individual living near one of the waterways who actually lost their life unfortunately during one of the previous storm events. That's why in particular we want to make sure that we get the word out as quickly as possible," said Scott Morishige, the state's homeless coordinator.
On Wednesday, a total of four teams hit the streets of Honolulu passing out fliers and letting unsheltered individuals know where all the evacuation shelter locations are across Oahu. Some people were receptive, others were not.
"50/50 because I'm thinking about the food," said Duc Vo, who has lived in Aala Park for about a year. "He said we have to have our own food. We don't have our own food."
Outreach efforts started on Tuesday with teams canvassing Kakaako to Kahala. Teams tackled Iwilei, Chinatown and the rest of Honolulu on Wednesday and on Thursday, they will move west.
At the end of Wednesday, Capt. Mike Lambert said they connected with more than 400 individuals.