In yesterday’s post we touched on some of the basic hazards associated with living on or near an island that contains an active volcano, such as Kilauea on the Big Island of Hawaii. We briefly mentioned purchasing a gas mask to include in the island survival kit. Getting away from the affected area by any means possible is always the first course of action.
Today we are going to discuss island survival tactics for riding out a hurricane. Island survival is not complete without learning what to do and when to do it when a hurricane makes landfall. As a former resident of the Hawaiian Islands I can attest to the destructive nature of these violent weather systems. Surviving a hurricane on an island is quite a bit different than it is on the mainland. While hurricanes in Hawaii are rare, when they do hit they normally pack quite a punch. The first part of island survival regarding hurricanes requires knowing the difference between a “watch” and a “warning.”
“Hurricane Watch: Issued when the threat of hurricane conditions of high wind and storm surge are expected within 48 hours. Preliminary precautions should be taken.
Hurricane Warning: Issued when the threat of hurricane conditions of high wind and storm surge are expected within 36 hours. Actions for the protection of life and property should begin immediately. Evacuations are generally ordered during a hurricane warning.”
Preliminary precautions include making sure you have enough supplies in stock to bunker down if you live above the coastal flood plains, or making arrangements to vacate the area for higher ground in the event you live along the coast. Regardless of whether you live on the islands or are just visiting get familiar with evacuation zones and responses. Knowing where hurricane shelters are located is also part of the island survival process.
“Shelter-in-place: If you live in a newly constructed home outside the coastal evacuation and flood zones, consider sheltering in place. Pre-identify a “Safe Room” such as a bathroom, large walk-in closet or enclosed hallway to take refuge in. Safe Rooms can be an excellent option to a public evacuation shelter.”
Sheltering in place is exactly what my family did when Hurricane Iwa made landfall in Hawaii. When we received the “watch” a statewide emergency alert was sounded and all service industries were closed until further notice. We headed home and waited for the storm to pass. It was unlike anything I had ever been through before or since. Back then island survival meant staying inside and hoping the roof didn’t cave in. Today Hawaii has several island survival plans to accommodate the various hazards one might face while living or visiting there. A basic island survival kit with recommended contents will also come in handy.
The following video demonstrates just how destructive hurricanes can be when they hit the Hawaiian Islands. As you can see many residents elected not to use their boats to escape to safety. The reasons for this vary but the general theory is that by the time a tropical depression upgrades to a storm and then on to a hurricane it is too late to try and outrun one at sea. Stay put and find shelter on higher ground. It is your best chance of seeing sunlight again once the storm has passed.