Honolulu Mayor Kirk Caldwell says the effects of a natural disaster are mitigated when citizens are proactive, instead of relying solely on the government.

In a statewide video teleconference Friday morning, Caldwell said, "We in government will do all we can but each resident of this island needs to know what they need to do to protect themselves and their family before government gets there."

The Department of Emergency Management advises having 14 days of supplies prepared-- but they also stress that creating your "preparedness kit" is less daunting than you may think.

"A lot of times they have the emergency supplies, but its scattered through the house. So make sure you gather those things."

In Hawai'i, preparing early is of a unique importance.

"What we have on island is all we have on island. Get those materials in place because once those shelves are empty, that's it."

But another thing unique to Hawai'i, is the aloha spirit, which must shine in the wake of natural disaster.

"It is about loving and caring for your neighbors. Take care of you and your family first but reach out to your neighbors. Pool your resources together and be ready for government assistance."

Mayor Caldwell cautions against falling into the social media trap, some people even venturing TO the beach during a storm.

"They think it almost can be kind of fun. We're going to live through this disaster they think it will be cool to see the wind. Those are the people who end up getting hurt."

To help prepare you for a natural disaster, here are some tips:

Disaster Preparedness

Take the time now to consider basic disaster preparedness and what actions you or your family will take in the event a hurricane threatens O‘ahu. Due to our isolation and large population, nearing one million residents it could be many days before local disaster relief efforts reach all of those who are affected.  

Individuals, families and businesses should be prepared to be on their own for at least 14-days. Assemble basic supplies such as food, water, clothing and important medications for a 14-day kit. Also, visit our website at www.honolulu.gov/DEM for more disaster preparedness information and to access downloadable information sheets.

Emergency Information 

Important official emergency information such as evacuation notification and shelter locations will be broadcast over all TV and radio stations as well as official social media. Should your power go out during an emergency such as a hurricane, it then becomes vitally important that each household have a battery operated radio and spare batteries on hand to receive emergency information. Newer hand-crank generator or solar powered radios are also a good option. 

Emergency and Community Information via Social Media/Online: 

Like and Follow the Department of Emergency Management on Twitter at @Oahu_DEM and on Facebook at www.facebook.com/OahuDEM. Additional preparedness information can also be found on our website at www.honolulu.gov/DEM. Residents are also urged to follow Mayor Caldwell’s social media channels at: Twitter: @MayorKirkHNL; Facebook: facebook.com/MayorKirk; Instagram: instagram.com/mayorkirkhnl; and YouTube: youtube.com/MayorKirkHNL.

Emergency Email and Text Message Alerts

O‘ahu residents are encouraged to sign-up to receive emergency email, cellphone text messages and push alerts from the City and County of Honolulu by downloading the free HNL.info app from the App Store or Google Play. HNL.info is perfect for visitors as well as out of town family or guests. 
Preparing your home:

  • Protect your property. Declutter drains and gutters. Consider hurricane shutters. Review insurance policies.
  • Be prepared to bring loose, lightweight objects inside that could become projectiles in high winds (e.g., patio furniture, garbage cans); anchor objects that would be unsafe to bring inside (e.g., propane tanks); and trim or remove trees close enough to fall on the building.
  • Be prepared to cover all of your home’s windows. Permanent storm shutters offer the best protection for windows. A second option is to board up windows with 5/8” exterior grade or marine plywood, cut to fit and ready to install.

Check insurance policies

Homeowners insurance alone will not cover hurricane damage.  You will need separate policies for hurricane as well as flood insurance to protect against damage from coastal flooding. You can buy flood insurance separately through the National Flood Insurance Program.  Make sure to check and know what your existing insurance policies will or will not cover. 

Non-English Speakers and People with Disabilities

If you have a family member who does not speak English or a family member who, due to a disability cannot receive emergency information readily, we highly recommend forming a core group of family or friends who can assist with translations or providing important emergency information as well as assisting with disaster preparedness actions and if needed, evacuation

Hurricanes and Tropical Storms

Once a storm system crosses the 140-degree west longitude mark, it enters the Central Pacific area and would be in “Hawaiian” waters. Carefully monitor any hurricanes or tropical storms that develop or enter into Hawaiian waters until they safely pass our islands or dissipate.