Hurricane Lane Dumps More Than 30 Inches Of Rain On Parts Of Hawaii's Big Island

Aug 24, 2018
Originally published on August 24, 2018 8:26 pm
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AUDIE CORNISH, HOST:

Hurricane Lane continues its approach toward Hawaii. This morning, it was downgraded to a Category 2 storm. But with sustained winds of 105 miles per hour and torrential rainfall, it still poses considerable danger to the state. On parts of the Big Island, officials say more than 30 inches of rain have already fallen, causing landslides and flash flooding.

We've gotten NPR's Adrian Florido on the line in Honolulu. And, Adrian, if you can hear me, what does the damage look like so far?

ADRIAN FLORIDO, BYLINE: Hi, Audie. So, yeah, on the Big Island, there's been a lot of flash flooding and landslides, as you mentioned. Both of those things have shut down roads and highways. There haven't been reports of death or injury, but at least one person has had to be rescued because of floodwaters. There's also been power outages largely because trees and branches have been falling onto power lines. Several thousand people have lost power on the Big Island, on Maui and on Molokai. Hawaii's electric company, though, says that it's been working quickly to get those customers back online.

CORNISH: In the capital, what are officials saying residents should do at this point?

FLORIDO: So as the storm moves closer toward Oahu, officials are telling people to continue to stock up on food and water. Because pounding rain is expected, there's that fear that washed-out roads or landslides could cut off people's access to stores. They're also pleading with people to stay away from the beaches, as tempting as those big waves may be to surfers. But I can see the beach from where I am now, and it's clear that not everyone is taking that advice.

And then as the winds and the rain begin to pick up, they're telling people to shelter in place unless of course people don't feel safe in their homes. And in that case, they are being told they can go to one of the shelters that the Red Cross has set up.

CORNISH: You said it's clear people are - not everyone's taking that advice. What are you hearing from people?

FLORIDO: Well, in terms of the evacuation advice, about a thousand people had gone to shelters across the state as of earlier today. That includes homeowners, tourists and people without homes because Hawaii has a big homeless population. And that's actually one point of concern for officials. I went to a Red Cross shelter here in Honolulu, and I met a woman named Angelica Cisneros who said that she lived on the streets in Waikiki. And listen to what she said.

Are you worried about people who, like, didn't decide like you to come to a shelter?

ANGELICA CISNEROS: Yeah, I am. I actually tell everyone that the schools are opening. I told, like, a bunch of people. But most of them were already here before I was.

FLORIDO: So as you heard, many of her friends who are also homeless have taken shelter. But Cisneros told me that there are also plenty of people who are homeless who haven't because these are evacuation shelters; they're not homeless shelters. And people are being told to bring their own food. And a lot of people don't have any food to bring.

CORNISH: Adrian, while all this is going on, there's also a wildfire burning on the island of Maui. How's this affecting people's storm preparations?

FLORIDO: Yeah. This is in western Maui. And it's unclear what caused the fire and whether it had anything to do with the storm. It has threatened one of those Red Cross shelters, though, and so people had to be moved from the school where the shelter had been set up to a civic center.

CORNISH: In the meantime, what are forecasters saying about the hurricane?

FLORIDO: So it continues moving north toward the central islands, toward Oahu where I am. It's moving slowly. And the eye is showing signs of weakening. The forecasters expect it to turn west starting tomorrow. But officials warn that that is not a sure thing, and so they want people to continue to take preparations seriously.

CORNISH: That's NPR's Adrian Florido in Honolulu. Thank you.

FLORIDO: Thank you, Audie. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.