Department of Emergency Management urges residents to prepare for hurricane season and consider the challenges COVID-19 brings
In their annual joint press conference last week, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) and the Central Pacific Hurricane Center (CPHC) announced there is a 75% chance of near – or below-normal tropical cyclone activity during the Central Pacific hurricane season this year which begins on Monday, June 1 and runs through November 30. In addition, CPHC stated that this year’s outlook calls for two to six tropical cyclones for the Central Pacific hurricane region. Tropical cyclones include tropical depressions, named storms and hurricanes. “While it is somewhat positive that we can expect a below-normal hurricane season, we must be all be prepared nonetheless,” said Mayor Kirk Caldwell. “We cannot let our guard down, especially this year as we climb out of our COVID-19 challenges. That is why all of us must add to our 14-day survival kits: face coverings and hand sanitizers. We must also be prepared to practice greater physical distancing, should a hurricane approach our shores and we have to evacuate to City-designated shelters.” “We know people are hurting financially and might not have the means to prepare as much as they might have but even a little bit of preparation can make a huge difference,” DEM Director Hiro Toiya said. “Being prepared is more than just buying supplies, it can mean talking to your family about your shelter plans, planning on how to get in touch after an emergency, and printing out important contact information. We are not helpless. We’ve seen the power our communities have when faced with a looming threat, this will be no different. We are a resilient people, we will come out of this stronger than ever.” The Department of Emergency Management encourages all residents to take the following five actions at the start of the hurricane season.
Make a Shelter Plan
The onset of a disaster such as a hurricane or tropical storm can be confusing and chaotic, therefore, it is important to make as many decisions as possible ahead of time. Knowing what hazards your home or community is vulnerable to can help you decide now whether you will evacuate or shelter in place when a disaster strikes your area. Use the guidance on our website’s Make a Plan page to create a family Emergency Shelter Plan for where you will stay during a hurricane. If your home was not built or retrofitted to withstand hurricane-force winds, we recommend evacuating to friends or family that have hurricane resistant homes or at your workplace. Please remember that while hurricane evacuation shelters offer some protection from high winds, flying debris, storm, surge and flooding they are intended to be a last resort option for residents and visitors without safer options to use, at their own risk. If a hurricane evacuation shelter is your only safe option, be prepared to take additional steps to prevent the spread of illness at the shelter. In addition to your 14-Day Disaster Supply Kit, take cleaning items with you like soap, hand sanitizer, disinfecting wipes, or general household cleaning supplies to disinfect surfaces you may need to touch regularly. Bring 2-3 cloth face coverings per person and detergent to wash them regularly. If your home was built or retrofitted to withstand hurricane-force winds, we recommend identifying a safe room and sheltering in place. Given the current concerns with COVID-19 sheltering-in-place at home in a safe room is really the best option if possible.
Review Home or Renters Insurance Policies
Remember that homeowners insurance alone will not cover hurricane damage. You will need separate policies for hurricane as well as flood insurance to protect against damage from coastal flooding. You can buy flood insurance separately through the National Flood Insurance Program. Make sure to check your plan and know what your existing insurance policies will or will not cover.
In addition, homeowners and renters insurance does not always cover all of the damages and losses that may be incurred by a disaster. Know what is and is not covered by your insurance policy. Read My Insurance Doesn’t Cover What? to understand your coverage.
Prepare Your Home
Harden Your Home
Consider home projects that will provide long-term protection against a hurricane. Ideas and instructions can be found in the Homeowners Handbook to Prepare for Natural Hazards.
Be prepared to take just-in-time actions to protect your home as a storm approaches:
Protect your property. De-clutter drains and gutters.
Bring loose, lightweight objects inside that could become projectiles in high winds (e.g., patio furniture, garbage cans); anchor objects that would be unsafe to bring inside (e.g., propane tanks); and trim or remove trees close enough to fall on the building.
Cover all of your home’s windows. Permanent storm shutters offer the best protection for windows. A second option is to board up windows with 5/8” exterior grade or marine plywood, cut to fit and ready to install.
Build or Update Your 14-Day Disaster Supply Kit Take the time now to consider disaster preparedness and what actions you or your family will take in the event a hurricane threatens O’ahu. With our geographic isolation and large population, nearing one million residents it could be as long as two-weeks before local disaster relief efforts reach all of those who are affected.
Individuals, families and businesses should be prepared to be on their own for at least 14-days. Assemble basic supplies such as food, water, clothing and important medications for a 14-day kit. Also, visit our website at www.honolulu.gov/DEM for more disaster preparedness information and to access downloadable information sheets.
In addition, due to COVID-19 concerns, this hurricane season be sure to include cloth face coverings, hand sanitizer, soap, and disinfectant supplies in your 14-Day Disaster Supply Kit. Consider storing more than one gallon of water per person per day for increased sanitation needs.
If you have an existing kit, make sure to review its contents and replenish or rotate supplies. Be sure to add cloth face coverings, hand sanitizer, soap, and disinfectant supplies to your kit.
Important official emergency information such as evacuation notification and shelter locations will be broadcast over all TV and radio stations as well as official social media. Should your power go out during an emergency such as a hurricane, it then becomes vitally important that each household have a battery-operated radio and spare batteries on hand to receive emergency information. Newer hand-crank generator or solar powered radios are also a good option.
Emergency and Community Information via Social Media/Online: Like and Follow the Department of Emergency Management on:
Additional preparedness information can also be found on our website at www.honolulu.gov/DEM.
Emergency Email and Text Message Alerts: O’ahu residents are encouraged to sign-up to receive emergency email, cellphone text messages and push alerts from the City and County of Honolulu by downloading the free HNL.info app from the App Store or Google Play.
Non-English Speakers and People with Disabilities:
If you have a family member who does not speak English or a family member who, due to a disability cannot receive emergency information readily, we highly recommend forming a core group of family or friends who can assist with translations or providing important emergency information as well as assisting with disaster preparedness actions and if needed, evacuation.
Disaster preparedness resources for non-English speakers can be found here.
Mahalo to the City and County of Honolulu