The Big Hurricane That Is Coming

Larry Price
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Wednesday - August 09, 2006
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There’s an old saying about Hawaii’s weather patterns: “It’s not if a hurricane is going to hit, rather when it’s going to hit.”

I found it interesting that so many people were disappointed that Hurricane Daniel didn’t come closer to Oahu. Some people thought we needed the rain. Others thought it would be a good “practice” hurricane that could be used to train civil defense rookies. I didn’t hear anyone wishing for a dangerous hurricane, just one big enough to shake up the government’s preparedness.

While listening to a lot of people speculating about whether we were all prepared for a major hurricane, it dawned on me that almost everyone was wondering if the state emergency services were up to speed - once again proving that the only perfect science is hindsight.

The probable truth is the public has no right to expect government agencies to come to their rescue in the event of a major hurricane striking the Hawaiian Islands. What everyone should be considering is his or her own plan for dealing with a major hurricane.

Ask a good friend if he and his family have a family plan to survive a major disaster. Chances are, if he is honest, he will admit that they’ve thought about such a plan, but that’s it - they’ve thought about it.

But that’s not good enough if you live in Hawaii, for a few good reasons.

1) No one can predict with any degree of certainty how big or devastating a category 4 or category 5 hurricane would be. Granted they can make predictions; however, when a big hurricane hits, no one can be sure how much damage it will cause.

2) If if a major hurricane hits the Hawaiian Islands, one thing is for sure: It is guaranteed that the first responders will rush to help the least fortunate members of the public. This means those in hospitals, nursing homes, the homeless and those in the community who cannot care for themselves. Everyone else can expect help to arrive 24 hours later or, in some cases, 48 hours later.

3) One of the biggest problems will always be the tourists, especially those who can’t speak English. The last time a tsunami hit Hawaii, many of the tourists were trying to get pictures of the swelling ocean rather than evacuating to higher ground. Getting away from the shoreline will always be a major problem for traffic control. With a little bit of luck, there will be no major road repairs in progress when a hurricane does hit.

Lastly, getting the public to participate in preparedness is like trying to get a football team ready for a really important game without knowing when the game will be scheduled, and when the team finds out, they only have an hour to be at the proper place at the proper time. Always being prepared for disaster can be depressing.

We are fortunate for the presence of the large military contingent stationed in the Islands. Every time Hawaii has suffered any kind of disaster, the military has provided its resources and expertise to aid the public.

The point is we were very lucky to have Hurricane Daniel miss the Hawaiian Islands. The second point is everyone needs to plan to protect their family and property and not expect the government to be right there when the big one finally hits. You will surely be disappointed in the response time and will and have no one to blame but yourself.

The next hurricane is on the way. The problem is nobody knows when and how fast it will be traveling when it hits.

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