Haleakala, state parks close as Olivia nears

Some garbage, Kaiser operations will be affected

Maui County prepared for the arrival of Tropical Storm Olivia late today or early Wednesday by closing Haleakala National Park and some state parks and halting some residential refuse collections.

Public schools, with the exception of Hana High and Elementary, were open today, though after-school programs, such as A-Plus child care, and all interscholastic sports activities were canceled for today. In a letter to parents, the state Department of Education said it will provide more information about closures and resumption of after-school activities as the situation unfolds.

Kamehameha Schools Maui and Kuamahi Community Education on Maui and Molokai will be open today with the exception of after-school programs and athletic activities at the Pukalani campus. Kamehameha Schools said it will announce plans for Wednesday later.

Haleakala National Park’s Summit and Kipahulu Districts will close at 2 p.m. today. There will no sunrise viewing Wednesday and Thursday, and the gates will be locked.

Backcountry hikers have been notified they will need to leave the park before 3 p.m. today, said park spokesman Charles Lassiter on Monday evening. In anticipation of Olivia, no backcountry camping permits will be issued beginning this morning. All cabin reservations for today and Wednesday have been canceled

The Kipahulu and Hosmer Grove campgrounds will close at noon today.

Park managers will assess conditions Thursday morning and reopen the park once it is safe to do so, 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 its Facebook page.

All state parks under the state Department of Land and Natural Resources Forestry and Wildlife Division will close at noon today. Included are forest reserves, natural area reserves, game management areas, wildlife sanctuaries, public hunting areas and Na Ala Hele trails.

Also included is Waianapanapa State Park in East Maui, under the DLNR’s State Parks Division. Other Maui and Molokai State Parks Division parks, including Iao Valley State Monument, will be operating at regular times today but will be closed Wednesday. Camping and lodging in Maui parks is suspended until the storm passes.

All closures remain in effect until further notice pending impact assessments. People with camping and lodging permits have been notified via email about refunds or rescheduling their visits, DLNR said Monday.

“This is standard operating procedure for our publicly accessible lands and is a prudent approach to keep everyone out of harm’s way during these hurricanes and tropical storm events,” said DLNR Chairwoman Suzanne Case. “We know it may be an inconvenience for people, particularly those who have camping permits, but our top priority is keeping everyone . . . staff and visitors, safe until the storm has passed.”

There was no word from the county about the status of county parks Monday evening.

Refuse collection in Hana and on Molokai and Lanai on Wednesday will be rescheduled to Friday, the county Department of Environmental Management said. 

That pickup as well as Thursday refuse collections will depend on the impact of Olivia, the department said. The schedule of the Molokai landfill also will depend on the storm.

As for medical facilities, Kaiser Permanete is suspending all Neighbor Island travel for providers, staff and patients today and Wednesday. Patients are being contacted to reschedule their appointments and procedures, the health care provider said Monday.

The Kihei and Lahaina clinics are closed today but all other facilities are open, Kaiser said.

To help members get their medications ahead of the arrival of Olivia, Hawaii Medical Services Association will allow early refills of maintenance medications on all islands. Maintenance drugs are medications for chronic, long-term conditions and are taken on a regular basis.

Members should call for approval:

• Medicare Part D, (855) 479-3659.

• HMSA QUEST Integration, (855) 479-3656.

• HMSA commercial plans, (855) 298-2491.

Hawaiian Electric Cos, including Maui Electric Co., are monitoring Olivia and making emergency preparations, the utility said Monday. This includes activating emergency response plans, going through prestorm checklists and readying crews to respond.

MECO is assigning and prepositioning workers, the HECO news release said.

“The Hawaiian Electric Cos. have focused on hardening our island grids over the past several years, but they are not immune to storms like Olivia,” said Ron Cox, senior vice president of operations. “There will be outages if the islands are hit by powerful winds, torrential rain and flooding. Once the storm has passed and it is safe for our crews to begin restoration, we will work as quickly and safely as possible to restore power.”

HECO is in touch with the Western Regional Mutual Assistance Group and other utility industry organizations that are ready to provide resources if requested.

Hawaii Gas said that it has sufficient propane supplies and that its synthetic natural gas plant on Oahu is operating normally. Hawaii Gas supplies the U.S. Coast Guard, police and fire departments and hospitals and said that it has an adequate supply for the storm.

Other closures or cancellations:

• The Molokai Planning Commission meeting set for Wednesday has been canceled The next regular meeting is scheduled for Sept. 26.

• The Maui Native Hawaiian Chamber of Commerce has postponed its gathering today, featuring George Akau, project biologist, and Jeff Stuber, operations and maintenance manager, both of Auwahi Wind. The gathering will be rescheduled to early November. Those who have purchased tickets will receive detailed information about refunds by email. For more information, call 633-6962.

• The presentation “In the Footsteps of Queen Kapiolani” scheduled for 5:30 p.m. today at the University of Hawaii Maui College science building, ‘Ike Le’a, has been rescheduled for Sept. 25 at the same time and same place.

George D. Szigeti, president and CEO of the Hawaii Tourism Authority, advised visitors to stay off the roads and to stay close to hotels or accommodations and to heed the advice of civil defense officials and airline, hotel and tourism industry professionals.

“Being prepared and staying safe needs to be everyone’s top priority these next couple of days,” he said. “Whether Olivia is a hurricane or a tropical storm is irrelevant as the potential for dangerously high winds and torrential rainfall are threats statewide.”

For visitors currently in Hawaii or with confirmed trips to Hawaii in the coming days, HTA advises to stay informed about Olivia and to contact their airlines, accommodations and activity providers to see if adjustments to travel plans are needed.

HTA has a special alert page about Olivia on its website and is posting updates as new information becomes available. The website is www.hawaiitourismauthority.org/news/alerts/.

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