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Monday, January 18, 2010

How Prepared is The State of Hawaii, Really

As a chain of hawaiian islands and the 50th state we are definitely no stranger to natural disasters.  Over the years we have had our fair share but no where near what the other 49 states had endured in extremities and by the numbers across the board.  The state of Hawaii is vulnerable to certain kinds of natuaral disasters, such as tsunami's, hurricanes, flooding, life-threatening lava flows, earthquakes, and thunderstorms.

Hawaii is the state at greatest risk for a tsunami.  On the morning of April 1st 1946, with a magnitude of 7.8 reported occured in the Aleutian Islands off of Alaska.  About five hours later, around 7 a.m, the largest and most destructive tsunami waves in reported history struck Hawaii, killing 159 people.  Property damage approximately totalled $26 million.  Tsunami's are associated and generated by earthquakes in coastal regions.  At that time there was no tsunami warning system in place and many of the people on the Big Island which is also known as Hawaii was unaware of what was to come.  Here are a few more tsunami events that occured in the state of Hawaii.

Hurricane Iwa hit the islands of Niihau, Kauai and Oahu on November 23rd 1982.  It was a category 1.  Iwa was the first major hurricane to hit Hawaii since statehood in 1959.  Hurricane Iniki was the most powerful hurricane to strike Hawaii in recorded history.  The eye of the hurricane passed over the island of Kauai on September 11th 1992, as a category 4 hurricane causing six deaths and $1.8 billion in damages.   
With this hurricane looming and strengthening the people of Kauai started their preparations the day before and the day of, right before the hurricane made land fall.

In March 2006, more than 30 days of torrential rains resulted in major damage from flooding, as well as serious public health issues.  On Kauai, it caused a dam break killing 7 people.  On Oahu, the rain caused Waikiki's sewer system to overflow, resulting in a sewage spill that polluted parts of the island's south shore for several days.  Heavy rain in Hawaii can be difficult to forecast and may come suddenly.  In addition a great deal of the island of oahu was heavily flooded creating saturation and mudslides, peoples homes were ruined by this torrential down pour.  Low lying areas were affected greatly by damage of heavy flooding due to this torrential rains.

Between 1983 and 1993, lava flows erupted at Kilauea volcano on th Big Island of Hawaii, destroying nearly 200 houses and severing the coastal highway along the volcanos south flank.  There are currently 7 volcanoes on the Big Island, 3 of them are active and one of them just may erupt again within this century.
Volcanoes also emit gases during eruptions.  Sulfur dioxide gas combined with water droplets in the atmosphere creates acid rain, adversely affecting vegetation and causing corrosion.  Also This very same gas can and has been drifting across the state affecting each island.  This also affects the health of the people here especially those that have respiratory ailments.

Earthquakes happen often in Hawaii, the majority of them are too small to be felt.  The last one happened on the Big Island of Hawaii on October 15th 2006, and could also be felt on the island of Oahu and Maui with a magnitude of 6.7 causing property damage, injuries, land slides, wide spread power outages and airport delays and closures.  The most severe damage occured on the Big Island of Hawaii.  Heavy damage was also reported on the island of Maui and minor damage spread all the way out to the island of Oahu.

Thunderstorms are quite rare here in Hawaii but if and when we get one it is usually memorable, like the one we had on December 26th 2008.  This was Black Friday in paradise.  The power outage occured as a result of a severe thunderstorm we had on the island of Oahu.  The outage snarled traffic every where as motorists had to cope with driving without traffic, highway or street lights.  Shutting down businesses on one of the busiest shopping days of the year.  People were scurrying to find flashlights and generators and what ever else they may need in this emergency situation.  Lightening was the main culprit in this severe thunderstorm, I should know because I have never seen so much of it blanketing the skies that night and I also witnessed it hitting the transformer box just a few feet from my home.  I watched several strikes come down into my neighbors yards, it was pretty hairy I'd say.  My home also sits high upon a mountain and so the lightening strikes were extremely close in my vicinity.

As I have gone through the many natural disasters that the state of Hawaii has faced at some point or another, it really says very little at how much people of Hawaii really are prepared.  Hurricane Iniki, people started preparing the day before and the day of right before it struck.  The torrential rains caught the entire island off guard because this rain never stopped past 30 days, no one was prepared for this.  After the 1946 tsunami event the pacific tsunami system was created and put into place but to what extent people prepared for future tsunami's that came I do not know.  My guess is probably not much.  Kilauea's volcanic eruptions are ongoing and the Big Island is one of the youngest islands out of all and is still growing hence the lava flows continually.  Earthquakes do occur here in the islands but majority of them we cannot feel, except for the one on October 15th 2006.

We all felt that one, in fact at the time, I was sitting on my couch in the living room with my cat.  All of a sudden he flew in the air and like a bullet shot right under my bed in a matter of seconds, for a split second I thought that was odd then came the earthquake my entire house was shaking.  I stood up and walked a bit and was swaying it was pretty strange to experience an earthquake.  On top of this electricity was out all over.  Was anyone prepared for this?  I believe the answer is no.  And last but not least the black friday thunderstorm of 2008, again no one was prepared because it was evident at how the public would scurry here and or there just to find flashlights and generators after the fact that the power went out.

That is why I always say Hawaii is in the saddest state of all when it comes to preparing for any kind of emergency disaster, the people here will never make it if and when ever something major and more severe and extreme will hit this state.  The people of Hawaii will not be prepared to endure a full blown disaster.
If by chance a few residents of this state may happen upon this post, please take the heed and warnings of past disasters and be prepared ahead of time always. 

Do yourself, family and friends a favor and start that food storage plan, take that red cross class or take the C.E.R.T training program, have a plan for your family and do practice runs in the event of a disaster and become prepared, become knowledgeable in what to do and how to react to emergency situations, have something under your belt because when emergency responders aren't gonna respond to you after 72 hours with all their services spread thin what are you gonna do?  Who are you gonna rely on then?  What sort of skills will you have in those times of stress to help others let alone help yourself?  Do you at least know your neighbors?  That way you can each help one another and set up your community to assist in an emergency situation that is statewide where you just may not recieve any help from any where else. 

These are the important things that everyone should be really thinking about and working on in this day and age I don't need to tell you why, I think the past has a track record of explaining and the future is creating a devastating outcome.  Always remember when the real need arises, the time to prepare has passed and remember the three P's Preparedness Prevents Panic!




Gen-IL Homesteader said...

Wow! Hawaii has gone through (and could go through again) some MAJOR disaster! You have some pretty scary weather down there!

Aloha2U said...

Yes, definitely. We're not out the woods here and we never will be. I forgot to mention the self-made disasters as well. Every year we go through this rumour of dock workers going on strike and when people start this nasty rumour it creates panic here then people start rushing out to buy out all the toilet paper, water and rice, it's ridiculous! Reason for this is that the dock workers contract is up for negotiations, yes the possibility is there but people here have a tendency to make matters worse. My brothers a stevedore so I get the scoops on whats happening.

Gen-IL Homesteader said...

What is a stevedore? I've never heard of that.

Aloha2U said...

Hi Gen-IL
They are dock workers at the piers who unload shipment containers, that's what they call em' here.

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And start investing in a food storage plan! Thanx Anon

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