Residents urged to prepare for hurricanes
Col. Mark C. Boussy is the garrison commander of U.S. Army Garrison-Oahu, Hawaii.

FORT SHAFTER, Hawaii - We are very fortunate to live here in Hawaii, but we are not immune to hurricanes and tropical storms that can be devastating to our island paradise.
Although hurricane season officially runs from June 1 to Nov. 30, it is always a good idea to stay vigilant and be prepared throughout the year.

Preparing for a disaster is the most important step in keeping you and your family safe. Know what to do in the event of a hurricane and be prepared.

<b>Hurricanes in Hawaii</b>
Hurricane Iniki took its toll on Hawaii in September 1992, causing an estimated $2.4 billion in damages with Oahu alone sustaining $31 million in damages. Although long-since recovered with extensive renovations to much of our Oahu Army installations, they too sustained significant damage from Iniki - so don't wait until the last minute to prepare for this year's hurricane season.

<b>How will I find out about a potential hurricane'</b>
If a hurricane is approaching Hawaii, you will learn about it from radio and television news reports.

In addition, residents should stay tuned to the Hawaii Army Cable News (HACN) TV2 for detailed information on actions to take. By monitoring local television and radio stations, or TV2, you will stay informed and have a better understanding of the right actions to take when a hurricane is approaching the island.

U.S. Army Garrison-Hawaii plans to use the housing CallMax system to notify you of an on-post emergency. If you don't get periodic messages on your phone from housing, your phone number is probably not in its database.

One of the most important things you can do now is make sure your telephone number is updated with housing and you have the capability to view our on-post television station TV2.

<b>Are there emergency shelters on Oahu Army installations'</b>
Yes. Every Army Hawaii Family Housing (AHFH) community is over-watched by a unit that manages emergency shelters within its area of responsibility.

In advance of a pending hurricane, you will be advised through a number of communication methods (HACN-TV2, AHFH CallMax, and Military Police on public address systems) to proceed to your assigned emergency shelter.

When this notification occurs, you and your family should already have all the items contained within your Emergency Readiness Kit on hand, which you will bring to the emergency shelter.

<b>How long can my family expect to be in the assigned shelter'</b>
All Oahu Army installation emergency shelters are short-term shelters only. You can expect to remain in your assigned shelter for approximately 12-24 hours, or until the "all clear" signal is given. The shelter is set up to accommodate your family only during the time the storm is actually on land, so it is important that you and your family come prepared with basic items, to include food and water.

Furthermore, a major hurricane could knock out electricity for an extended period of time so having these supplies on hand now is critical. When a hurricane is 12 hours out, critical items will not be on the store shelves, and most likely the PX will be closed for everyone's safety.

Think about turning emergency preparation into a great teaching project for your younger family members, which in turn gets your family prepared.

<b>What if I my family and I live off-post'</b>
For a complete listing of local off-post shelters, you can call the Oahu Civil Defense Agency at 808-523-4122, refer to your local phonebook, or log onto the Web at <a href="http://www.oahucivildefense.com">www.oahucivildefense.com</a>.

<b>Can I bring my pet(s) to the emergency shelters'</b>
No, the shelter is not designed to accommodate an animal unless it is a service animal (for example, seeing eye dogs or sensing dogs). Pets should be secured in your home, be properly kenneled or as a last resort, brought to the shelter, but kept in your car.

For more useful information on hurricane preparedness, a recommended example of an Emergency Readiness Kit can be found in the AHFH Hurricane Readiness Tri-Fold, along with a list of all the Oahu Army installation emergency shelters on the Web.

Page last updated Fri May 15th, 2009 at 23:16