Residents ready homes; some visitors ready to leave
KIHEI — South Maui may catch the brunt of Hurricane Lane in Maui County, leading many residents and tourists to hunker down Wednesday in preparation for heavy wind and torrential rain.
The Category 4 system was 335 miles south of Kahului at 8 p.m. Wednesday. The southerly approach will be generating big surf and heavy rain favoring the southeast- and east-facing slopes, the National Weather Service said.
The effects of Lane could begin this afternoon with hurricane force winds possible later tonight, according to the weather service.
Kihei residents and businesses were boarding up their homes and buildings with plywood Wednesday.
Kim Larson began putting plywood over every window and door in his 7,500-square-foot home on South Kihei Road at 8 a.m. He said he picked up 40 sheets for his three-story house and that several hardware stores sold out of plywood.
“I’ve been on the island for 38 years, and we’ve been lucky on a lot of them (hurricanes) where they click out,” he said outside his home. “This one ain’t going to click out. This one I know is coming in. I’m just watching it on the news, and I’m like, ‘uh oh.’ I know it’s time for Maui.”
Larson has been renovating and building an extension to his home since 2014 and wondered how much damage the hurricane could bring. He and his wife, Anna, have lived in the house for the past 15 years and have not sustained much damage despite South Kihei Road flooding regularly during heavy rains, he said.
“This is probably going to turn into a swimming pool,” Larson said, pointing to his front lawn. “If it does, it does. The water should run out to the street and the back gate, but if the water gets up this high over the road, everyone is f—-d.”
Kihei resident Darien Anduh spent Wednesday securing his friend’s boat and house on Nohokai Street, which also is prone to flooding. Anduh said the street and nearby Uluniu Road are known to flood up to the knee but could be even worse in a dangerous hurricane.
“We’re really low over here,” he said. “We try to put stuff, but you cannot control water. Water will find ways.”
Anduh said he is most worried about flying branches and other debris, as well as the boat floating away. By Wednesday afternoon, he had moved canoes underneath the garage and planned to board up the windows before the end of the night.
Anduh said many people have lived in the neighborhood their entire lives. He said everyone is trying to help one another prepare their homes for the hurricane.
“One guy, he’s like, ‘I’m not going anywhere. This is my house,’ ” Anduh said. “He’s going to stay right there. It is what it is.”
Kihei hotels and condominiums have been cautioning their guests to “stay put” and to bring inside any lanai furniture and belongings.
Maui Sunset shut down its pool, hot tub and elevator but has kept its staircase open for safety, office manager Summer Jago said. She said the 225-unit resort condominium complex was a little over 50 percent occupied, and crews spent all day Wednesday cleaning gutters and other areas.
Jago said the complex has been telling guests that the safest place to be during the storm is in their units rather than an evacuation shelter. She noted that the complex has stored water and flashlights.
“It feels a little different this time,” she said. “I think people are taking it a little more serious because of what’s going on around the world. It can happen to us, and I think that’s why people are cautious.”
Visitors to Maui tried to remain optimistic.
Sean Stark of Seattle, who was staying at the Kohea Kai Resort, said he just started his vacation and was “trying to enjoy the calm before the storm.”
“I’m trying to keep a steady head and not overreact with what’s going on, but at the same time have the right mindset to be prepared for worst-case scenarios,” Stark said. “I’m still enjoying it until probably tomorrow when the rain and winds pick up.”
Canada visitors Kerry and Bryson Irwin said they were jarred from sleep at 5:30 a.m. Wednesday by the blaring of the emergency alert on their phones. The couple, who was visiting the island with their two daughters and about 40 others for a wedding, said they have been following the news on the hurricane and were scheduled to fly home Wednesday night.
“We’re a little scared we might be stuck here for a few more days,” Kerry Irwin said. “At first, we were thinking, ‘Oh it might be nice to be stuck here for a few more days,’ but then the hurricane started coming, and we thought maybe not.”
At least one visitor did not feel too worried about the approaching hurricane.
Kat Mentken of Prescott, Ariz., who was visiting Kealia Pond with Jerid Ludwig, said the hurricane did not feel “threatening.” She was flying back home Wednesday night but would have stayed another week if she could have.
“There’s people freaking out, but I don’t know, we’re not scared,” Mentken said. “I really don’t want it to affect our flight, and I don’t think it will.”
Some worry may be caused by false rumors being spread through word of mouth and social media. County spokesman Rod Antone sought to correct some “bad information, which is causing some panic.”
Honoapiilani Highway is not closed; the county is not shutting off water to customers; evacuation centers are not full; and Maui Electric Co. does not have rolling blackouts planned.
Costco General Manager Tony Facemire said Wednesday that rumors about the store running out of gas are not true and that he does not anticipate running out.
There are reports of price gouging by some stores, Antone said. This is against state law, which prohibits any increase in the selling price of any commodity, whether at the retail or wholesale level, during a declared disaster or emergency situation. Businesses found to be price gouging may face a fine of $500 to $10,000 per violation.
County officials are asking people to report all incidents of price gouging to the state Department of Commerce and Consumer Affairs’ Office of Consumer Protection by calling 243-4648 or (800) 468-4644.
After contacting the DCCA, people may call the mayor’s Chief of Staff Lynn Araki-Regan, who is keeping a record of price gouging incidents, at 270-7855.
The operators of Maui Memorial Medical Center, Kula Hospital and Lanai Community Hospital said Wednesday that they were working closely with state and county emergency management agencies to monitor Lane and its potential effects.
Each facility has reviewed emergency operations plans and is prepared with generator power to last at least 96 hours at full capacity, said Maui Health System CEO Mike Rembis in an email. They have supplies for at least one week, and in most cases a few weeks.
He said elective procedures are being reviewed on a case-by-case basis but are continuing as scheduled as normal hospital operations permit.
“We are fully prepared to continue to provide quality medical care to our community,” Rembis said. “We encourage all residents and visitors to be vigilant and prepared with their emergency kits and family plans for evacuation.
“Anyone in need of medical attention can continue to use our emergency departments at Maui Memorial Medical Center, Kula Hospital and Lanai Community Hospital.”
The Maui Humane Society is working closely with the Red Cross to open pet-friendly shelters in Kihei and Kahului.
Volunteers began staffing the shelters at Lokelani Intermediate School and Maui High School at 2 p.m. Wednesday and plan to be there 24 hours a day. Owners must bring their pets in a carrier and all the supplies they will need, including food, bowls and medications. Pets should also have a collar or microchip.
Nancy Willis, director of development and community outreach, said the humane society has about 170 animals under its care. She said the society is open and does not plan to close, but in case it has to there will be staff at the Puunene facility to care for animals.
For more information about pet care during disasters, visit www.mauihumanesociety.org/content/503d4db010ca0/Disaster_Preparedness.html.
* Chris Sugidono can be reached at email@example.com.