By Sarah Pacheco, Hawaii Army Weekly. U.S. Army Garrison-Hawaii Public AffairsJune 2, 2014
SCHOFIELD BARRACKS, Hawaii -- U.S. Army Garrison-Hawaii is conducting its annual hurricane exercise, Makani Pahili, May 28-June 4.
Meaning "Strong Winds" in Hawaiian, Makani Pahili is a joint exercise that involves the State of Hawaii and all armed services in the Hawaiian Islands.
The No. 1 objective of this exercise is to prepare all Army Hawaii installations for the annual hurricane season in the Central Pacific, June 1-Nov. 30.
Other key objectives are to test disaster preparedness plans and procedures, to test alert procedures and communications systems, and to test select safe havens and family assistance centers at Schofield Barracks and Fort Shafter.
Residents and personnel can expect to see and hear "Exercise-Exercise-Exercise" alerts and announcements from the mass notification "giant voice" systems, as well as from emails and from other websites during the exercise.
These alerts are part of the exercise, and so people are asked not to be alarmed.
Rather, they can focus on the following three easy steps:
-- First, get a kit. The kit should include emergency medications; nonperishable food; a manual can opener; one gallon of bottled water, per person, per day; a battery-powered radio; a flashlight and extra batteries; bedding; clothes; copies of important documents; cash; a first-aid kit; basic household tools; and other special items for infants, pets and elderly or disabled family members.
-- Then, make a plan. Meet with all family members to make a plan and discuss how to prepare and respond to emergencies that are most likely to happen at home, school or work. Identify responsibilities for each member of the household and plan to work together as a team.
A family communications plan also is necessary; each household member should know how to reconnect with the family. Be sure to make advance preparations for any pets or people with special health needs, as well.
Prepare an evacuation plan that identifies two places to go if told to evacuate, one within and one outside the neighborhood, like a friend's home or a shelter.
Store all emergency information on a card that can fit into a wallet. The card should contain each household member's work, school and cell phone numbers.
In addition, this card should contain the two meeting places and a contact number for someone out of the state. An out-of-state contact may be needed if local phone lines are overloaded or out of service during an emergency.
Sometimes, sending a text message or calling long distance to this central contact person may be accomplished easier during an emergency.
-- Finally, be informed. Get a good map and be familiar with the community's inundation zones. Listen to local media or National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) broadcasts for the latest storm conditions.
If advised to evacuate, do so immediately and bring the family disaster supplies kit.
Keep listening to the radio for Civil Defense announcements that state which shelters are open.
During a news conference held in Honolulu, May 22, NOAA's Central Pacific Hurricane Center announced that it expects an above-normal hurricane season in the Central Pacific Basin.
Experts said they expect between four to seven tropical cyclones to affect the area, noting that an average hurricane season has four to five tropical cyclones.
The outlook is based upon the expectation of El Nino developing during the 2014 hurricane season, which favors the development of more and stronger tropical cyclones, to include tropical depressions, tropical storms and hurricanes.
"I encourage the public to become weather-ready by signing up for weather alerts, developing a family emergency plan and building an emergency kit before hurricane season begins," said Tom Evans, acting director of the center. "Now is the time to make sure that you and your family are ready and prepared for the 2014 hurricane season."