Big Island feels the effects of approaching Hurricane Lane

Hurricane Lane could be the most powerful storm to hit Hawaii since Hurricane Iniki in 1992

As emergency shelters opened, rain began to pour and cellphone alerts went out, the approaching hurricane started to feel real for Hawaii residents.

Hurricane Lane was forecast to continue its northwest turn into the islands Thursday, which would make it the most powerful storm to hit Hawaii since Hurricane Iniki in 1992.

“Everyone is starting to buckle down at this point,” said Christyl Nagao of Kauai. “Our families are here. We have businesses and this and that. You just have to man your fort and hold on tight.”

Officials opened shelters on the Big Island and on the islands of Maui, Molokai and Lanai on Wednesday. They urged those needing to use the Molokai shelter to get there soon because of concerns the main highway on the south coast of the island could become impassable.

RELATED: Hawaii residents prepare for Hurricane Lane

On the island of Oahu, which was put on a hurricane warning late Wednesday, shelters were scheduled to open Thursday. Officials were also working to help Hawaii’s sizeable homeless population, many of whom live near beaches and streams that could flood.

Hawaii Emergency Management Agency Administrator Tom Travis said there’s not enough shelter space statewide and advised those who are not in flood zones to stay home.

Officials warned the limited shelter space should be a “last resort” and aren’t designed to withstand winds greater than about 40 mph (64.3 kph).

“Whenever possible, the public should plan to shelter in place or stay with family or friends in homes outside of these hazard areas that were designed, built, or renovated to withstand anticipated conditions,” the city and county of Honolulu said in a news release.

Hurricanes are ranked 1 to 5 according to what is known as the Saffir-Simpson Hurricane Wind Scale. Hurricane Lane is at Category 4, which means winds from 130 to 156 mph (251 kph).

The Big Island was already starting to see Lane’s first effects, Gov. David Ige said at a news conference Wednesday.

The hurricane’s outer rain bands were bringing showers to some parts of the island, said Matt Foster, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service.

The eastern side of the island picked up nearly 3 inches (7.62 centimetres) of rain in three hours, Foster said.

Melanie Davis, who lives in a suburb outside Honolulu, said she was gathering canned food and baby formula.

“We’re getting some bags of rice and of course, some Spam,” she said of the canned lunch meat that’s popular in Hawaii.

She was organizing important documents into a folder — birth and marriage certificates, Social Security cards, insurance paperwork — and making sure her three children, all under 4, have flotation devices such as swimming vests — “just in case.”

Public schools were closed for the rest of the week and local government workers were told to stay home unless they’re essential employees.

Meteorologist Chevy Chevalier said Lane may drop to a Category 3 by Thursday afternoon but that would still be a major hurricane.

“We expect it to gradually weaken as it gets closer to the islands,” Chevalier said. “That being said, on our current forecast, as of the afternoon on Thursday, we still have it as a major hurricane.”

The central Pacific gets fewer hurricanes than other regions, with about only four or five named storms a year. Hawaii rarely gets hit. The last major storm to hit was Iniki in 1992. Others have come close in recent years.

RELATED: Hawaii volcano shoots lava into sky; evacuations ordered

“We’re planning on boarding up all our windows and sliding doors,” Napua Puaoi of Wailuku, Maui, said after buying plywood from Home Depot. “As soon as my husband comes home — he has all the power tools.”

Puaoi was 12 when Iniki hit Hawaii.

“When it did happen, I just remember, pandemonium, it was all out craziness,” she said.

Unlike Florida or Texas, where residents can get in their cars and drive hundreds of miles to safety, people in Hawaii are confined to the islands.

Instead, they must stay put and make sure they have enough supplies to outlast prolonged power outages and other potential emergencies.

The Federal Emergency Management Agency has several barges with food, water and supplies that it moved into the region ahead of Hurricane Hector, which skirted past the islands more than a week ago, according to FEMA Administrator Brock Long.

The U.S. Navy was moving its ships and submarines out of Hawaii. All vessels not currently undergoing maintenance were being positioned to help respond after the storm, if needed.

The Associated Press

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Just Posted

Shuswap bottle drive to support pediatric cancer research

Young cancer patient doing her best to help others with the disease that hits one in 333 kids

Regional district directors’ pay conflict resolved in new bylaw

11th-hour attempt for more by CSRD electoral area directors fails

Race is on for Shuswap late-run sockeye salmon

New estimates say about 750,000 sockeye will spawn on the Adams River, similar to 2014 dominant run

In photos: Ready, set, roll!

Friendship Day Soap Box Derby excitement in downtown Salmon Arm

Iconic Shuswap sternwheeler undergoing work for return to service

Sicamous business owner Mike Helfrick hopes to offer dinner tours on historic vessel

Weekday weather update

A look at your Okanagan-Shuswap weekday weather for Sept. 24

Edmonton cannabis company revenues more than triples to $19.1 million

Aurora Cannabis revenues more than triple in fourth quarter

B.C. pharmacist suspended for giving drugs with human placenta

RCMP had samples of the seized substances tested by Health Canada

Seattle one step closer to NHL after arena plan approved

Seattle City Council unanimously approved plans for a privately funded $700 million renovation of KeyArena

Harvest Moon to light up B.C. skies with an ‘autumn hue’

It’s the first moon after the autumn equinox

Hockey league gets $1.4M for assistance program after Humboldt Broncos crash

Program will help players, families, coaches and volunteers after the shock of the deadly crash

Don’t feed birds in the parking lot

Vernon wildlife control services owner says feeding ducks and geese, or any wildlife, is bad

Canada has removed six out of 900 asylum seekers already facing U.S. deportation

Ottawa had said the ‘overwhelming majority’ had been removed

Most Read