(BIVN) – State and County government is getting ready for the impacts associated with Hurricane Douglas.
Today, the Hawaiʻi Emergency Management Agency continued coordination efforts with local civil defense agencies, various federal and state partners, and the National Weather Service in Honolulu.
As of 2 p.m. HST, Hurricane Douglas was 725 miles east southeast of Hilo. A Hurricane Watch is in effect for Hawaiʻi County and Maui County.
COVID-19 Concerns Dominate Media Briefing
During the online news briefing held Friday afternoon, most of the questions from reporters related to emergency response protocols in the time of the COVID-19 pandemic. Today, the State of Hawaiʻi reported its highest single-day total of new cases.
Governor David Ige clarified that the State of Hawai‘i’s mandatory 14-day quarantine rule for travelers is being modified temporarily in consideration of the impacts of Douglas.
“I want to make sure that those in quarantine are adequately prepared per the state recommendations,” Governor Ige said. “If you are in quarantine, to the extent possible, please have supplies and materials delivered and lean on friends and family to help build your supply kit. As a last resort, you are allowed to break quarantine, but only to procure necessary supplies and materials. Please physically distance yourself, wear a mask and minimize your time outside your home or place lodging and your contact with others. If possible, utilize curb-side pickup and similar options. To the extent possible, you should shelter in place. If you need to seek emergency shelter, please do so.”
Sand Provided To Residents Ahead Of Storm
The Hawai‘i County Department of Public Works announced that sand will be available at locations around the island (found here), starting on Friday at noon, enabling residents to make their own sandbags ahead of possible flooding due to Hurricane Douglas.
“Please note that the sand is available while supplies last, and you will need to bring your own shovel and bags to collect the sand,” a County news release stated. “Empty jute sandbags are available at a variety of hardware and home improvement supply stores across the Island, and can be filled with sand or soil. Heavy-duty trash bags can also be used to hold sand or soil.”
“If your residence or business is prone to flooding, please take measures to have your sandbags in place before flooding occurs,” the County advised.
East Hawaiʻi County Beach Parks Close
The County of Hawai‘i Department of Parks and Recreation announced that all County beach parks on east-facing shores will be closed effective Friday, July 24 at 7 p.m. until further notice.
The beach parks that will close are from Whittington Beach Park in Ka‘ū, around the east side of the islands to Kēōkea Beach Park in Kapa‘au. Also, all County camping permits are cancelled for Saturday and Sunday, the Department said.
Hawaiʻi DOT Prepares
HDOT expects impacts to state routes, like Hawaii Belt Road (Route 19) in Hāmākua, but cautions that the storm track may change and impact other locations. The department stated:
The Hawaii Department of Transportation (HDOT) Highways Division continues to prepare for the potential effects of Hurricane Douglas by clearing drains in areas known to be impacted in past weather events, ordering contractors to pull BMP (e.g., devices to filter stormwater on job sites) and secure electronic boards and other items that may pose hazards in high winds, and confirming emergency contacts for damage surveys and response. Weekend roadwork for Hawaii Island and Maui and roadwork scheduled for Oahu on Sunday, July 26 has been canceled in advance of Douglas.
Coast Guard Sets Port Condition X-RAY
The U.S. Coast Guard Captain of the Port on Friday set port condition X-RAY for Hawaiʻi and Maui Counties. The USCG stated:
At port condition X-RAY, gale force winds of 39 mph are predicted to arrive within 48 hours. During port condition WHISKEY, gale force winds of 39 mph are predicted to arrive within 72 hours. Ports’ status are open to all commercial and recreational traffic.
Vessels that desire to remain in port must submit a safe mooring plan in writing to the COTP and DOT-Harbors Division and receive permission to remain in port. Requests to remain in port can be found here.
At Port conditions X-RAY and WHISKEY, all pleasure craft shall seek sheltered waters. All ocean-going commercial vessels and ocean-going barges that have not been granted permission from the COTP and State of Hawaii Department of Transportation, Harbors Division (DOTH), to remain in the port area must make plans for departure. Vessels will be required to complete cargo operations and depart the port within 60 hours for Whiskey and 36 hours for X-RAY.
If and when the Captain of the Port sets port condition ZULU, meaning sustained gale force winds are anticipated within 12 hours, all activity will be suspended, and the ports will close until the storm has passed and damage assessment surveys are completed.
Hawai‘i National Guard Prepares
From the Hawaiʻi Department of Defense:
As Tropical Cyclone Douglas approaches the state, HING Forces prepare to respond while continuing to assist all four counties and the State of Hawai‘i in COVID-19 mitigation measures. Currently, the HING has over 700 personnel executing specific duties for the counties and state in addressing COVID-19 needs. With the arrival of Douglas, the HING is standing by to respond to two fronts at the same time. HING Joint Task Force Commander Brig. Gen. Moses Kaoiwi Jr. said, “The Hawai‘i National Guard is prepared to provide support, in response to Tropical Cyclone Douglas, to the counties as needed. While a large number of our force is dedicated to COVID-19 mitigation, we still have service members not actively supporting the COVID-19 mission. These Soldiers and Airmen could be activated for on State Active Duty status.” Hawai‘i National Guardsmen currently supporting the COVID-19 mitigation mission, could be diverted to assist with any of the effects of Douglas only if the situation calls for it.