Hawaii residents have heeded a call by the Hawaii Emergency Management Agency to keep preparing and stay calm as Hurricane Iselle approaches the state.
As of 5 p.m. Tuesday, Iselle was 905 miles east of Hilo with maximum sustained winds of 100 miles per hour, making it a category two hurricane. The storm is expected to continue to weaken as it travels to the west, northwest at 13 miles per hour.
At Costco in Iwilei, warehouse assistant manager Scott Ankrom said he was forced to use exit doors as an additional entrance because of the sheer number of people waiting to get inside at 10 a.m. Bottled water quickly sold out, but the store was expecting another shipment Tuesday afternoon.
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"It was crazy," said Ankrom. "It was like we opened up for Christmas in the middle of the summer time."
Other emergency supplies such as batteries, toilet paper and food staples like rice were still available at the Costco Iwilei location as of mid-afternoon. However, big ticket items like generators were completely sold out.
Francine and Jonah Malloe of Mililani considered themselves lucky when they were able to purchase a 2,000 watt generator from Waipahu Lawn Equipment Sales and Service for about $1,100.
"My son knew about this place, so we called and they said we have two left," said Francine Malloe. "We rushed over and thank God we got one of the two that was left."
Waipahu Lawn Equipment Sales and Service owner Terrence Fernandez said he's already received inquiries from some people who were hoping to turn storm preparation into profit. One caller asked Fernandez if he could purchase as many as 10 generators at once.
"When demand is high you have people trying to take advantage of the moment," said Fernandez. "For us, we go by the manufacturer's suggested prices."
Fernandez estimates he's sold at least 50 generators in the last 48 hours, and some people have already paid for generators that are still en route to Hawaii.
Meanwhile, officials at the Hawaii Emergency Management Agency, formerly State Civil Defense, urged residents to visit its website at www.scd.hawaii.gov for recommended actions ahead of Iselle, which could be followed by another hurricane, Julio, in the eastern Pacific.
"Our goal isn't to scare anyone, but we want to make sure Hawaii's citizens and visitors have what they need to stay safe and healthy," said Emergency Management Administrator Doug Mayne. "People should have their emergency plans and seven-day kits in place and consider preparing their homes and businesses for high winds and flooding."
According to Emergency Management public information officer Brian Miyamoto, there are 150 hurricane shelters available on Oahu to provide 300,000 spaces. Statewide that number grows to 250 shelters and 423,000 spaces, or roughly 30 percent of the state's population of 1.4 million people.
By Wednesday, Honolulu's Department of Emergency Management will issue a list of shelters that will open on Oahu. City spokesman Jesse Broder Van Dyke said the city is expected to open about 10 shelters in all.
The Department of Education has already announced school closures on the Big Island and Maui on Thursday. Some of the schools on the Big Island that are designated emergency shelters will close at 2 p.m. on Wednesday, so after-school activities have been cancelled.