We can learn from Typhoon Jebi’s catastrophe in Japan

Our County

If anyone has seen the pictures and video of the aftermath of Typhoon Jebi in Japan, you’ll understand why we need to treat all hurricanes, tsunamis, tropical storms and other weather phenomenon very seriously.

This was the strongest storm to hit Japan in 25 years.

So far, 11 people have been reported dead and more than 600 injured. The storm’s 110 mile per hour winds were strong enough to blow cars around like leaves and heave a 2,591-ton tanker into a bridge, severely damaging the only link from Kansai International Airport to the mainland. This forced about 3,000 travelers to spend the night at the airport despite the flooding that was taking place.

All in all, a horrible catastrophe for the people of Japan but one which we can learn from.

Hurricane Lane turned into Tropical Storm Lane and never really materialized for Maui County, slowing down and breaking apart last month. Even so, Lane still hit different parts of the island. The storm brought down trees across Upcountry and East Maui, blocking roads and pulling down power lines. Rain flooded several roads in Hana and collapsed a culvert in Haiku.

In West Maui, swirling winds from the storm took a brush fire and spread it from Launiupoko to Lahaina to Kaanapali. In some areas our firefighters reported a 40-foot wall of flame while battling the blaze.

Homes were lost in some areas and the fire knocked out power and communications services for hours.

Yes, there was damage but it could have been much worse. One look at Typhoon Jebi in Japan and you can see how much worse. Loose debris flying off rooftops like missiles, trucks being flipped over as they drive, ships blown into major infrastructure like bridges, and that is why we can’t succumb to complacency or worse, fatigue, when it comes to emergency preparedness on a state, county or even a personal level. For the most part, our community did what they were supposed to, buy supplies, get out of flood zones or shelter in place if the storm is upon you.

These are all important to remember and to repeat as many times as is needed during hurricane season. The season officially began on June 1 for the central Pacific and won’t end until Nov. 30.

Even as we speak, Hurricane Norman is projected to head away from our islands but will still bring increased gusts. Hurricane Olivia is still too far away to show any projections except that it will strengthen and cross over in to the central Pacific this weekend.

So make sure you hang on to those canned goods in your emergency kits, because hurricane season isn’t over yet.

* “Our County,” a column from Maui County Mayor Alan Arakawa, discusses county issues and activities of county government. The column usually appears on the first and third Fridays of the month.