State surveys community on hurricane preparedness

  • Flooding debris from Hurricane Lane is caught in some fencing in the soccer fields Aug. 28 at Hilo Bayfront. (HOLLYN JOHNSON/Tribune-Herald)

HILO — Are you prepared for a hurricane?

With the 2018 hurricane season now behind us, the state has mailed out surveys to some Hawaii residents asking how prepared they are to face a major hurricane.

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The state, through Honolulu consultants Solutions Pacific LLC and SMS Marketing Research, sent out 13,600 surveys to randomly selected households statewide, said Luke Meyers, executive officer for Hawaii Emergency Management Agency. The sample was disproportionately distributed to ensure that all counties are adequately sampled, he said.

About 400 of the 2,200 surveys the agency expects to be returned are from the Big Island.

The majority of this survey was also performed in 2009-2010 statewide. To a large extent, the agencies are tracking changes in behavior, preparedness, understanding, and attitudes, Meyers said.

The $65,000 cost of the mail survey is part of a larger contract to help the agencies improve policy development and communication effectiveness.

The four-page survey asks, among other things, where the family gets its information about approaching storms, whether they would stay at home, in a public shelter, private shelter or somewhere else for each category of hurricane and whether they think their home would be damaged by a hurricane.

Questions also focus on how stocked up the family is with emergency food and water and how long they think they could survive on it.

Questions about pets, medications, special assistance needs are also asked, as are questions about how confident people are in government emergency management.

The survey also asks about hurricane protection such as hurricane clips, anchor cables and shutters, water tanks and emergency generators.

“The 2017-18 hurricane season saw devastating impacts throughout the country, reminding us of the impact natural disasters can have,” said Hawaii Emergency Management Agency Administrator Thomas Travis in a letter prefacing the survey. “We understand that although we cannot control such forces, we can better prepare ourselves, our families, our homes and our communities to weather the winds, rain and high seas, and the damage they bring.”

Six cyclones — a category that includes depressions, storms and hurricanes — passed through the basin the 2018 season that ended Nov. 30, with each reaching hurricane strength at one point. Four were major hurricanes, packing sustained winds of at least 120 mph, and two reached the top of the Saffir-Simpson Scale at Category 5 strength, circulating winds greater than 157 mph. Two of the storms affected the islands, one dumping feet of rain over East Hawaii areas and the other making landfall on Maui and Lanai.

The Big Island was hit especially hard by Hurricane Lane. As it approached the state, the storm intensified to a Category 5 hurricane but weakened as it closed in, passing about 250 miles southwest of the Big Island as a Category 3 storm on Aug. 22.

West Hawaii had been prepared to take a hit from the storm, but that didn’t materialize. Instead, windward areas, from North Kohala to Puna, took the brunt of the storm. Some parts of East Hawaii recorded more than 4 feet of rain as the storm passed. Damage to county facilities totaled about $20 million and an estimated 152 homes were damaged with 59 sustaining major damage, Managing Director Wil Okabe said in the storm’s wake.

The survey is sponsored by HI-EMA, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and the Federal Emergency Management Agency.

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The state didn’t tell Hawaii County officials the survey was going out, said Hawaii County Civil Defense Administrator Talmadge Magno. He said that’s not unusual; the state often conducts various surveys and then provides the county details later.

“We all work together,” Magno said. “Whatever information they find out, they share.”

  1. LOL in Kona December 31, 2018 11:05 am

    and remember:
    we need a survey since otherwise these turkeys
    ….”once hired, can’t be fired”
    might have to actually do something
    …since it *might* rain, or it *might* get windy since Iniki hit Kauai back in ’92.


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