(BIVN) – In the days before Hurricane Lane brushed by the Hawaiian islands, the Federal Emergency Management Agency kept a close eye on the storm.
On August 23, FEMA administrator Brock Long spoke from the podium at this press conference held in Washington.
“What is for sure is Hawaii is going to be impacted by Hurricane Lane,” Long said of approaching storm. “The system is setting up to be a significant rain event, torrential rains are forecasted it. They’re predicting over 30 inches in some parts. We are extremely concerned about the potentials for inland flooding, landslides occurring and damage to the transportation, communications infrastructure.”
Hurricane Lane passed by the Big Island without making landfall, but the storm brought heavy rains that drenched the East side of the island.
For days, areas of Hilo, Hamakua, Puna, and Ka‘u experienced flash flooding. Homes and roads were damaged, and many families had to be rescued from rising waters.
A rain gage in Mountain View measured just over 52 inches of rain for the period from 8 a.m. on August 22 – which is when the outer rain bands of the hurricane started impacting the Big Island – through 8 a.m. on August 26, after the trailing rain band passed west of South Point. The National Weather Service also said that an unverified private weather station reported 58.80 inches during this same time span. Forecasters say both totals indicate that Hurricane Lane has broken the total rainfall record for a Hawaii tropical cyclone. The previous record was 52.00 inches, measured during Hurricane Hiki in 1950.
This week, the FEMA administrator finally had the chance to join Hawaii County Mayor Harry Kim and local emergency officials in Hilo.
After a stop at the Emergency Operations Center, they took to the sky over East Hawaii, where they saw the effects of Hurricane Lane – as well as Kilauea Volcano – from above.
From the helicopter, severe erosion was visible on the cliffs of the Hamakua Coast.
The head of FEMA later joined the U.S. Department of Homeland Security Secretary and the governor for a media briefing on Oahu.
Hawaii County Civil Defense says to report flood damage from the recent heavy rains, please call them at 808-935-0031 for a damage assessment. Volunteer teams are also available to help clean up your home or property after the damaging floods. If you would like assistance, please call 808-643-5555.
The Hawaii State Department of Health continues to advise the public to stay out of streams or bays that are contaminated by storm water. Storm water may contain harmful micro-organisms from overflowing cesspools or septic tanks as well as animal waste that washed into streams and storm drains.