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Update 6:45 p.m.: Public schools, UH-MC close Wednesday; Haleakala National Park, county offices shut too

State trails, parks close Wednesday, Thursday

The approach of Hurricane Lane is affecting activities in Maui County with all public schools closing Wednesday and Haleakala National Park, state and county parks, forests and trails all shutting down as well.

Most county offices and services are shutdown through the weekend. Nonessential state workers also were put on administrative leave.

UH-Maui College will be closed Wednesday until further notice. Notifications on UH campuses may be found at www.hawaii.edu/emergency/, Facebook at www.facebook.com/universityof hawaii, and twitter.com/UHawaiiNews.

The state Department of Education earlier had issued a notice saying that after-school events and programs, including interscholastic sports and the A-Plus after-school program, were canceled from Wednesday through the weekend, resuming Monday. All school-related interisland travel this week has been canceled as well, the DOE said in a letter to parents and guardians Tuesday.

The DOE advised parents and guardians to watch for updates about whether school would be in session Thursday and Friday, which will be posted on its website www.hawaiipublicschools.org, Facebook and Twitter.

The department said that it was urged by emergency officials to close public school campuses due to the potential severity of Lane. The cancellation of the after-school events will allow emergency officials to use public school facilities as evacuation shelters.

“As with any emergency-type situation, we are striving to balance the need for safety with our overall commitment to provide shelters and families with every sense of normalcy,” said Deputy Superintendent Phyllis Unebasami.

All county offices will be closed Wednesday, reopening Monday, including the Division of Motor Vehicles and Licensing, Real Property Tax office and senior services. Liquor certification locations will be closed during that time as well, said county spokesman Rod Antone.

All county parks and pools will be closed at least until Saturday, when a storm damage assessment will be done, he said.

The last trash pickup is scheduled for Wednesday until further notice. All county landfills will be closed at noon Wednesday and reopen Friday, pending a storm damage assessment, he said.

“Our residents and visitors should avoid traveling at all costs during this storm event,” said Mayor Alan Arakawa. “Stay home, stay informed and stay safe.”

For more information about the storm, call the Maui Emergency Management Agency at 270-7285 or go to the website www.mauicounty.gov.

The offices of council services and the county clerk will remain open Wednesday, said Council Chairman Mike White. The scheduled council Land Use Committee meeting will go on as scheduled at 1:30 p.m. in Council Chambers on the eighth floor of the county building.

Since executive branch agencies will be closed Wednesday to Friday, the public should enter the county building from the first floor to gain access to the elevators to the eighth floor. The elevator will be accessible from 7:45 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Access to the eighth floor will remain in place until the end of committee meeting.

White said he and staff have been closely monitoring the progress of Lane and consulting with emergency management officials. Based on current forecasts and advice, it appears safe for the committee and offices to conduct their regularly scheduled business Wednesday.

Haleakala National Park Summit and Kipahulu districts will close at 4 p.m. Wednesday in advance of Lane for visitor safety with heavy winds and rain forecast. Entrance gates will be locked, said park spokesman Charles Lassiter.

The park will not open for sunrise viewing on Thursday or Friday morning. Park managers will assess conditions on Friday evening and reopen the park once it is safe, he said.

The Kipahulu and Hosmer Grove campgrounds will close at noon Wednesday. Backcountry hikers have been notified that they will need to leave the park before 4 p.m. Wednesday.

No backcountry camping permits will be issued beginning Wednesday morning and all cabin reservations for Wednesday, Thursday and Friday have been canceled, Lassiter said.

For the latest closure information, call 572-4400 and press option 2, or check the park website at www.nps.gov/hale or Facebook page.

In addition to canceling the Board of Land and Natural Resources meeting on Oahu on Friday, the state Department of Land and Natural Resources Parks Division will be nixing night camping and lodging in state parks Wednesday night and closing parks Thursday morning.

The Division of Forestry and Wildlife will be closing at noon Wednesday forest reserves, natural area reserves, game management areas, wildlife sanctuaries, public hunting areas and Na Ala Hele trails.

Small boat harbors and ramps operated by the Division of Boating and Ocean Recreation will remain open, though boaters are advised to secure their crafts.

“Our primary concern is public health and safety,” said Department of Land and Natural Resources Chairwoman Suzanne Case. “While we realize closures and cancellations may be an inconvenience this is a powerful storm that could have dramatic and damaging impacts across the state.

“We want to be prepared to safeguard people’s safety using state resources as well as to protect those resources as much as possible in advance of Hurricane Lane.”

Kihei 4th Friday has been canceled due to Lane.

Lucienne deNaie, president of the Haiku Community Association, said Tuesday that a political forum, scheduled to begin at 6 p.m. at Haiku Community Center, is set to take place as scheduled. If the weather is bad and only a few people show up, they will thank people for coming and close the doors, she said.

<*p(00,0,00,10.1,3,0,g)>n Lee Imada can be reached at leeimada@mauinews.com