Hurricane Lane unleashed torrents of rain and landslides that blocked roads on Hawaii’s mostly rural Big Island on Thursday as residents and tourists in the state’s biggest city braced for the dangerous storm to come their way.
Emergency workers rescued five people from a flooded house in Hilo after a nearby gulch overflowed, said Hawaii County Managing Director Wil Okabe. They weren’t injured and were taken to a shelter, he said.
On the state’s most populated island, which is about 200 miles north of the Big Island, employees of the Sheraton Waikiki resort filled sandbags to protect the Oahu oceanfront hotel from surging surf.
Stores along Waikiki’s glitzy Kalakaua Avenue stacked sandbags along the bottom of their glass windows to prepare for heavy rain and flash flooding.
Hurricane Lane, which was still offshore, already lashed the Big Island with nearly 20 inches of rain in nearly 24 hours and was moving closer, putting it and Maui ‘in the thick’ of the storm, according to forecasters.
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Hurricane Lane, which dumped nearly 20 inches of rain in the Big Island on Thursday, remains dangerous even as its been downgraded to a Category 3, which means it has winds from 111 to 129mph. Pictured is flooding at Wailuku River in Hilo
People shield themselves from the wind in front of a store with stacked sandbags in preparation for Hurricane Lane Thursday
Forecasters said ‘excessive’ rain will continue into the weekend over the island and hurricane warnings remain in effect for Hawaii County, Maui County, and Oahu
The storm has weakened to a Category 3 but can still cause major damage, packing sustained winds of 120 mph.
Forecasters said ‘excessive’ rain will continue into the weekend over the island and hurricane warnings remain in effect for Hawaii County, Maui County, and Oahu.
Hurricane Lane’s center was last recorded around 260 miles south of Honolulu, with maximum sustained winds still recording near 125 mph.
Lane is expected to move close to or over portions of the main islands later Thursday or Friday, bringing dangerous surf of 20 feet, forecasters said.
The storm itself is only moving at 6 mph, which forecasters warn could actually raise the risk for ‘life-threatening flash flooding and landslides’ across the islands. Some areas could see up to 30 inches of rain.
A bird flies as others perch above floodwaters from Hurricane Lane rainfall on the Big Island on Thursday afternoon
Forecasters warned the storm was coming ‘perilously close’ to the main Hawaiian Islands as a hurricane on Friday. Pictured is a woman taking photos of floodwaters from Lane on the Big Island on Thursday
Park fields are flooded from heavy rains in Hilo on Thursday. The storm itself is only moving at 6 mph, which forecasters warn could actually raise the risk for ‘life-threatening flash flooding and landslides’ across the islands
‘Rain has been nonstop for the last half hour or so, and winds are just starting to pick up,’ said Pablo Akira Beimler, who lives on the coast in Honokaa on the Big Island. ‘Our usually quiet stream is raging right now.’
Beimler, who posted videos of trees being blown sideways, said staying put is about the only choice he has. The road to Hilo was cut off due to landslides, he said.
‘Hurricane Lane is still a dangerous and powerful storm,’ Hawaiian Gov Dave Ige said in a news conference on Thursday.
Honolulu Mayor Kirk Caldwell likewise warned that Lane was ‘wide and very moist’ and ‘going to hang around for awhile’.
People gather on a bridge to watch the Wailuku River flood waters on the Big Island as rain pours on Thursday afternoon
Hurricane Lane’s center was last recorded around 260 miles south of Honolulu, with maximum sustained winds still clocking near 125 mph. Pictured is the Wailuku River flood waters running downstream on the Big Island
A man avoids getting splashed by a large wave on a walkway along a beach ahead of Hurricane Lane in Honolulu
Tourists and residents gather on the beach despite it being ordered closed by Mayor Kirk Caldwell as Hurricane Lane approaches Waikiki Beach
A chicken hops through floodwaters in Hilo in this still image from a video that was obtained from social media
Oahu prepared to set off a siren warning at 4pm on Thursday for those who needed to seek shelter before nightfall and buses were made available to transport people to safety.
Some airlines also began canceling flights, with United Airlines grounding planes to and from Maui on Friday.
The airline added two additional flights from Honolulu to San Francisco on Thursday to help transport people off the islands.
Hawaiian Airlines decided to cancel all Friday flights by its commuter carrier, Ohana by Hawaiian, on Friday. It canceled Ohana flights to Kapalua and Lanai airports on Thursday.
United is also taking steps to secure its hangar at Daniel K. Inouye Airport in Honolulu.
A gas station remains closed after running out of gas as Hurricane Lane approaches Honolulu on Thursday afternoon
People shield themselves from the wind in front of a store with stacked sandbags in preparation for Hurricane Lane
Visitors take photos of the waves crashing upon the seawall along Alii Drive in Kailua Kona Hawaii on Thursday afternoon
Tourists Debbie Michon and Cannily Buchanan bring supplies back to their hotel as Hurricane Lane approaches Waikiki Beach
Nina Roberts shops for last minute supplies while shelves remain empty as Hurricane Lane approaches Honolulu
A homeless man sleeps on a picnic table along Waikiki Beach as others prepare for Hurricane Lane on Thursday afternoon
While no injuries have yet been reported, two campers have become trapped in a Hawaii valley due to Lane’s heavy rainfall.
Hawaii County Managing Director Wil Okabe says the campers called to report they were trapped Wednesday in Waipio Valley on the Big Island’s northern coast.
Emergency workers haven’t been able to contact the campers since then because of poor cellphone reception.
And crews cannot search for the trapped campers because of landslides and rivers of rain blocking the roads.
epa06967158 Visitors watch the rising surf generated by Hurricane Lane, crash upon the Kailua Kona coastline
Honolulu police officer Chad Asuncion monitors the water conditions and warns surfers about the conditions as Hurricane Lane approaches Honolulu
Some airlines also began canceling flights, with United Airlines grounding planes to and from Maui on Friday. Pictured is a boy viewing floodwaters from Hurricane Lane rainfall on the Big Island in Hilo
Dangerous, heavy rains and flooding are occurring in east Hawaii as Lane slows down and Okabe said the south shore of the Big Island was seeing 31-foot swells as the storm approached.
Forecasters revealed early on Thursday that Hurricane Lane had shifted course and was moving closer to Hawaii.
The hurricane will likely weaken in time due to possible terrain interaction and other factors that will destroy its core. But forecasters said the timing of the decay remains uncertain.
People enter a Red Cross shelter at McKinley High School ahead of the arrival of hurricane Lane in Honolulu
US President Donald Trump declared a state of emergency in Hawaii as landslides and flash flooding left roads blocked
Employees of the Sheraton Waikiki fill sandbags along the beach in preparation for Hurricane Lane on Thursday afternoon
Forecasters revealed early on Thursday that Hurricane Lane had shifted course and was moving closer to Hawaii
National Weather Service meteorologist Melissa Dye said the shift would put the Big Island and Maui ‘in the thick’ of Hurricane Lane over the weekend
Workers stack sandbags in front of a closed store in preparation for Hurricane Lane on Thursday afternoon in Honolulu
A woman tapes up a sign letting people know a store with stacked sandbags will close soon in preparation for Hurricane Lane
People stand outside of a partially boarded up McDonalds in preparation for Hurricane Lane on Thursday afternoon
Steve Goldstein, of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, said at a news conference on Thursday that Lane is expected to soak the Big Island before heading toward Maui and Oahu.
Goldstein said a direct strike is not needed to see a significant impact from such a strong hurricane.
Meanwhile, federal officials said they were prepared to help people on the islands.
Brad Kieserman, of the Red Cross, said there were 16 emergency shelters open and 283 people across the island already in them.
People stand near flood waters from Lane making the intersection of Kamehameha Avenue and Pauahi Street impassable
A landslide from heavy rains blocks the Hilo bound lane at the Honolii bridge on Highway 19 on Thursday in Hilo
The Big Island is being pummeled by gusty winds and torrential rains on Thursday. Pictured: rising surf generated by Hurricane Lane crashes upon the Kailua Kona coastline
A car is partially submerged in floodwaters from Hurricane Lane rainfall on the Big Island on August 23 in Hilo, Hawaii
A man takes photos of floodwaters in Hilo. Hurricane Lane has brought more than a foot of rain to some parts of the Big Island, which is under a flash flood warning
US Navy ships and submarines based in Hawaii were also instructed to leave port to avoid damage.
All vessels not currently undergoing maintenance were being positioned to help respond after the storm, if needed.
Navy aircraft will be kept in hangars or flown to other airfields to avoid the storm.
Unlike Florida or Texas, where residents can get in their cars and drive hundreds of miles to safety, people in Hawaii are confined to the islands and can’t outrun the powerful winds and driving rain.
Hawaii state workers clean debris and open up streams around Honolulu, in preparation for heavy rainfall and flash flooding on Oahu on August 23
This image taken from NASA shows Hurricane Lane on August 23, 2018, as it heads to the Hawaiian Islands
This satellite image from NOAA shows Hurricane Lane near Hawaii on Thursday, August 23, and the The National Weather Service warned that some areas could see up to 30 inches before the system passes
This map from NOAA show’s Hurricane Lane’s projected trajectory for the next five days
Instead, they must stay put and make sure they have enough supplies to outlast prolonged power outages and other potential emergencies.
‘Everyone is starting to buckle down at this point,’ said Christyl Nagao of Kauai. ‘Our families are here. We have businesses and this and that. You just have to man your fort and hold on tight.’
Living in an isolated island state also means the possibility that essential goods can’t be shipped to Hawaii if the storm shuts down ports.
‘You’re stuck here and resources might not get here in time,’ Nagao said.
The Hawaiian government began positioning generators and other aid in Hawaii well before Lane’s anticipated arrival.
FEMA administrator Brock Long said Thursday the supplies arrived in Hawaii after a volcano began oozing lava into neighborhoods in May and in preparation for a recent hurricane that bypassed the islands.
Empty shelves of a supermaket are seen as residents of Oahu are re-stocking their water and non-perishable food supplies as preparation for the looming threat of Hurricane Lane in Oahu, Hawaii, on Wednesday
Loren, right, and Ruby Aquino, of Honolulu, load water into their car ahead of Hurricane Lane, Wednesday, August 22, 2018 in Honolulu. Hurricane Lane has weakened as it approaches Hawaii but was still expected to pack a wallop, forecasters said Wednesday
People stand in a line waiting to fill up propane tanks at a local hardware store on Wednesday in Honolulu
Aly Klein, right, and her mother Clarice Klein walks out of a local hardware store with several buckets of hurricane supplies on Wednesday
After Hurricane Maria hit Puerto Rico last year, a FEMA report noted that one of its main issues was not having enough generators and other emergency aid on the island before the storm.
In response, officials stockpiled such items in hard-to-reach areas such as Hawaii and Alaska.
FEMA says the agency had also been talking with grocers to make sure food sources are stocked.
Shelters opened Wednesday on the Big Island and on the islands of Maui, Molokai, and Lanai. Officials urged those needing the Molokai shelter to get there soon because of concerns that the main highway on the island’s south coast could become impassable.
Officials were also working to help Hawaii’s sizeable homeless population, many of whom live near beaches and streams that could flood.
Hawaii Emergency Management Agency Administrator Tom Travis said there’s not enough shelter space statewide and advised people who were not in flood zones to stay home.
Authorities also warned that the shelters are not designed to withstand winds greater than about 40mph and that for most people they should be a ‘last resort.’
‘Whenever possible, the public should plan to shelter in place or stay with family or friends in homes outside of these hazard areas that were designed, built or renovated to withstand anticipated conditions,’ the city and county of Honolulu said in a statement.
Public schools were closed for the rest of the week and local government workers were told to stay home unless they’re essential employees.
This satellite image provided by NOAA on Thursday, August 23, 2018 shows Hurricane Lane bearing down on Hawaii from the south
A handout image made available by NASA on 22 August 2018 and taken by an Expedition 56 crew member from the International Space Station shows Hurricane Lane in the Central Pacific Ocean, near Hawaii, August 22, 2018
‘We’re planning on boarding up all our windows and sliding doors,’ Napua Puaoi of Wailuku, Maui, said after buying 16 pieces of plywood from Home Depot. ‘As soon as my husband comes home – he has all the power tools.’
Molokai real estate agent Pearl Hodgins said she expected the island’s two stores to soon run out of bottled water and batteries.
Melanie Davis, who lives in a suburb outside Honolulu, said she was gathering canned food and baby formula.
‘We’re getting some bags of rice and of course, some Spam,’ she said of the canned lunch meat that’s popular in Hawaii.
She was organizing important documents into a folder – birth and marriage certificates, Social Security cards, insurance paperwork – and making sure her three children, all under four, have flotation devices such as swimming vests – ‘just in case.’
The central Pacific gets fewer hurricanes than other regions, with about only four or five named storms a year. Hawaii rarely gets hit. The last major storm to hit was Iniki in 1992. Others have come close in recent years.
President Donald Trump issued a disaster declaration Wednesday, authorizing the Department of Homeland Security and FEMA to coordinate disaster-relief efforts with the state.
The ABC store in the lobby of the King Kamehameha Marriot, is boarded up and secured in preparation for the approaching storm, in Kailua-Kona, Hawaii on Wednesday