Hawaii residents prepare for future hurricanes

State Civil Defense Official Ray Lovell
State Civil Defense Official Ray Lovell

By Roger Mari - bio | email

HONOLULU (KHNL) - Two hurricanes have hit the Gulf of Mexico over the past few weeks causing billions of dollars in damage and a number of deaths.

Although a major hurricane has not hit the Hawaiian Islands in more than a decade, State Civil Defense Officials hope hurricanes Gustav and Ike will serve as a reminder that the possibility is real, and those living along the coastline need to be prepared to evacuate.

Storm surges from hurricanes present the biggest threat to those living along the coast. Hurricane Ike had a surge of more than 20 feet.

"That would engulf most of this house even with the ocean down there. So, I don't think I'd want to be anywhere near," said Hawaii Coastal Resident Kari Benes.

When a hurricane the strength of Gustav or Ike, hits the Hawaiian Islands, Civil Defense Officials say there is little that can be done to protect your property. But, there is something that can be done to save your life, and that is to evacuate.

"We saw many cases from previous hurricanes on the mainland where people stayed home that died or lost loved ones," says State Civil Defense Official Ray Lovell.

Hurricane Iniki, in 1992 was the last destructive hurricane to affect Hawaii. Some feel that islanders are becoming complacent and are not as prepared as they should be if a hurricane makes landfall.

"They don't really remember Iniki so much, they think that was a while ago and the reality is we can get a hurricane, it's very possible," says Kari Benes.

Another danger is lack of knowledge. Hurricanes don't have to be a "Category Five" to do extensive damage.

"Oh that doesn't make any difference. You can't judge what kind of damage a hurricane is going to do just because of the category of the wind speed. People should get that out of their mind," says Ray Lovell.

For anyone living or planning to live along the coastline of Hawaii, enjoy the view, but when a hurricane hits be prepared to head for higher and safer ground.

Ray Lovell of the State Civil Defense Department says those living by streams also need to be wary, because along with high winds associated with hurricanes, come heavy rain.