State prepares for catastrophic hurricane

Published On: Jun 04 2014 02:32:35 PM HST   Updated On: Jun 04 2014 03:51:31 PM HST

All week long, hundreds of personnel from government agencies, private businesses, and emergency services have hunkered down -- to prepare for Hawaii being hit by a powerful hurricane.

Many have never experienced the devastating effects of a catastrophic hurricane, so what would happen if this was the year one again hits our islands?

At State Civil Defense headquarters, personnel from county, state and federal agencies are practicing what to do before a hurricane hits, and also what to do after the storm.

"We're reacting to a strong category 4 hurricane that has affected the entire state," said Doug Mayne, with Hawaii State Civil Defense.

In the worst case scenario, every island had wind and flood damage to homes, the power was out and many roads were blocked.
"We had water supply problems, sewage problems, people in collapsed structures, fatalities and injuries," said Mayne.

The idea is to not only see how bad things will be, but how help can get to where it is needed most. Those efforts would begin the week before a storm even hits.

"We have a Hawaii catastrophe event plan that has pre-events that start 3-4 days before the storm hits. We start force feeding materials, supplies, and even this team would actually be on island several days before an event actually showed up," said Larry Dove, with FEMA.

While the disaster drill makes the state better equipped for hurricane season, the lessons learned can also be used long after hurricane season ends.

"90% of what you do in a disaster is the same, whether it's a hurricane, tsunami or even a terrorist attack," said Mayne.

In this hurricane readiness exercise, government agencies or private businesses were quickly alerted to nearby problems, so the right resources were sent to fix them.
Many consider it a success, because dozens of organizations both here in Hawaii and on the mainland were able to easily communicate with one another.
As people prepare their own disaster-preparedness kit -- communication is something they should also keep in mind.

"I cannot emphasis it enough -- for people to stay in touch with one another is the single most important thing we do during an emergency," said Gov. Neil Abercrombie.

If a catastrophe were to strike, emergency personnel said any cell towers still standing would mostly likely be overwhelmed by calls. During a disaster, people would be advised to just text details for family members or friends, as that message may get through.

If you would like more info on getting prepared for this hurricane season, check out our special program: Hurricane 2014: Need to know, Thursday night at 7:30 p.m.


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