While many residents are preparing for hurricane season by assembling disaster kits and updating evacuation plans, the governor is authorizing a raid of the state’s Hurricane relief fund.
Just one day before the official start of hurricane season in Hawaii, Governor Abercrombie, signed SB 1270 into law. This measure officially appropriates $42 million from the Hawaii Hurricane Reserve Trust Fund to the General Fund. The reasoning behind this law is the need to balance the budget before June 30th, the end of the fiscal year. Legislators claim, “Current economic conditions have necessitated difficult decisions by the state to balance an already precarious budget” (Source).
But Hawaii may have more pressing concerns than our state budget, should a hurricane hit the islands this season. And some experts are predicting that a hurricane in Hawaii is a very strong possibility. Hurricane expert, Dr. Rick Knabb, named Honolulu the U.S. city “most overdue” for a hurricane.
While there are no records of Honolulu having ever been directly hit by a hurricane, Dr. Knabb, notes that there have been numerous close calls over the years, and many people recall the damage Hurricane Iniki caused to both Kauai and Oahu in 1992. Dr. Knabb insists that there is “no meteorological reason” a major hurricane cannot directly hit Honolulu.
We may not be able to make sense of Abercrombie’s decision to raid the Hurricane Reserve Trust Fund just as we enter hurricane season. And we certainly will not be able to stop a hurricane if it comes. But what we can do is prepare.
The Hawaii State Chapter of the American Red Cross is advising all residents to follow three main steps to prepare for hurricane season.
Get a kit
The Red Cross recommends keeping an updated “evacuation kit” as well as a “home kit”. Due to the distance between Hawaii and the mainland, the evacuation kit should contain enough supplies to last for 5-7 days (compared with the national recommendation of 72 hours) and the home kit should be prepared to sustain you and your family for three weeks. A list of recommended items to include can be found here.
Make a plan
The Red Cross advises residents to work with family or household members to decide on evacuation plans and meeting points (one outside the home and one outside the neighborhood), and also to consider making arrangements for pets. Tips on making a plan can be found here.
Natural disasters can strike quickly and sometimes, in spite of weather warning systems, without much or any warning at all. It is important to stay informed on evacuation routes and to know how local authorities will notify your neighborhood in the event of an approaching hurricane. Additional advice from the Red Cross can be found here.