State, county, federal officials get ready for Hurricane Douglas

State, Federal, and County agencies are getting ready for the possible arrival of Hurricane Douglas to the state.  The current forecast, as of Thursday, July 23 at 4:30 p.m., says the earliest arrival of Douglas to Hawaii Island could be early Sunday, according to Hawaii County Civil Defense.

-Gov. David Ige today issued a pre-landfall emergency proclamation as the State of Hawai‘i prepares for possible impacts from Hurricane Douglas. The proclamation authorizes the expenditure of state funds for the quick and efficient relief of disaster-related damage, losses and suffering that may result from the storm.

–Federal, State and County agencies, along with private entities, met on Thursday at the Hawaii County Civil Defense Agency’s Emergency Operations Center for an orientation briefing.

Hawaii’s Federal Delegation (Senators Mazie Hirono and Brian Schatz, and U.S. Reps Ed Case and Tulsi Gabbard) asked President Trump to immediately provide support to the state as Hurricane Douglas approaches the islands.  They said federal support is especially critical now with COVID-19.  The Delegation had a number of requests:

•             Deployment of Hurricane Hunters. Forecasting relies on good data, and the best data for tropical cyclones like Douglas comes from the in situ observations of Hurricane Hunters. Deploying both P-3 and G-IV class aircraft or their equivalents will ensure that forecasters have the best possible information to advise emergency managers and responders.

COVID Support for Emergency Operations. Management and response personnel will be at heightened risk during this event because they will have to be in close proximity to one another, thereby increasing the risks for transmission. To minimize risk, they will need:

•               personal protective equipment (PPE);

•               industrial hygiene supplies for their workplaces;

•               alternate shelter to quarantine from their families;

•               screening and testing to identify and react promptly to infection; and

•               medical support in the event of infection.

COVID Support for Evacuation and Shelter. The needs for evacuation and shelter activities are similar to those for responders, but scaled up for larger numbers of people who will likely need additional support to practice stricter hygiene and social distancing protocols. In addition to the aforementioned items, we also request:

•               additional shelter facilities to support social distancing among evacuees, including the consideration of currently-underused facilities like hotels;

•               special screening protocols to help identify and manage evacuees who may already be infected, or who are at greater risk if they become infected; and

•               additional shelter personnel for the enhanced operations described above.

Food and Nutrition Assistance. The COVID pandemic has disrupted traditional food supply chains and resulted in unprecedented participation by Hawai’i residents in emergency food programs. Disasters such as Hurricane Douglas have the potential to exacerbate the need for food assistance and further disrupt food distribution networks. To ensure food security for impacted residents we request consideration of the following:

•               adequate stockpiles of shelf-stable food and water;

•               collaboration with agricultural producers, fishermen, feeding organizations, and local distributors to incorporate fresh food into emergency provisions; and

•               a logistical analysis of where to pre-position supplies to support the highest impacted areas, and how to ensure supply chains in the event of damage to road and transportation infrastructure.

Enhanced Assessment and Rebuilding Functions. The COVID pandemic makes it imperative to return residents to their homes and restore infrastructure as quickly as possible. Now more than ever, residents need their homes so they can observe social distancing and limit their risk of infection. Similarly, the roads that ensure distribution of necessary supplies throughout the state are also critical so that people are able to shelter in their homes. Thus, we ask your help for a rapid assessment of damages from Douglas, together with quick access to resources to rebuild.

 

Hawaii County Civil Defense also recommends that everybody on the island ensure your emergency plans are in place.  For further information, please go to Civil Defense’s webpage on Emergency Preparedness at https://www.hawaiicounty.gov/departments/civil-defense/emergency-preparedness.

 

For the latest information from the Hawai‘i Emergency Management Agency (HIEMA) please go to:

http://www.ready.hawaii.gov

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