When disaster strikes on Maui what then?

Maui County has little or no emergency plans, supplies, or infrastructure for emergencies. Basically, Maui is only set up to last a few days beyond any major disaster. If the ports close due to storms or tsunamis the food supply stops, and if the airports close too, it won’t last a week before it starts running out of food. We do not have food security and we are totally dependent on external supplies. This also includes fuel as well.

When the power goes out:  When the power goes out, like a brush fire at the power plant or earthquake etc, then not only do we lose power at home, but the county loses the ability to pump water. That means that most people will not have running water in their homes or be able to flush their toilets, (as sewage also needs electricity to pump it away). That means that in a serious power outage you will be pooping in your backyard. Hospitals too would be pushed to capacity, and would run low on supplies. So if there was a hurricane and you got a serious injury, what then?  

A Wake-up call:  My wake-up call came when we got the “15 minutes to Ballistic Missile Warning” on Maui: The biggest worry for me was when authorities told us to shelter in place. Did that mean that they do not have anywhere for us to go?, or that they cannot handle the full number of people who may need shelter? 

Where are the shelters?  

Where are the shelters? High school gymnasiums? Maybe not even.  There are no facilities specifically designed to be a shelter. High school gyms do not have stacks of blankets and cots, and emergency food and water stocked for emergencies. You are on your own, with what you bring with you. And remember that their toilets may not work also. So no guarantees of any assistance, and then everyone will be waiting in the Gym for what? For help? From where? 

FEMA Food Supplies:  FEMA has some supplies in a few containers stashed here and there. Unfortunately, someone just set fire to some of them, so we really do not know what we have. Also, FEMA tends to keep the location of said emergency supplies secret for its own protection. So who then is in control of your personal protection and safety in a crisis?  Basically nobody specifically, so it falls on every head of each family to consider this situation, and prepare. One thing that might be useful is to question our administrators, and ask where are the emergency provisions, and why don’t have proper shelters.

Building Shelters:  Why don’t all the Govt buildings build into their basements some multi-purpose structures, that could be used as shelters, like concrete parking garages, with a few extra facilities like toilets/showers, adequate ventilation, emergency power, etc.   

Planning an emergency infrastructure is perhaps less expensive if it is done over the longer term, like creating financial incentives to developers (like hotels) office buildings, and condos, to design and create some safety infrastructures in their construction plans. 

For example, if you build a proper “emergency shelter” into your basement, you will get tax credits for your entire basement. And then you could have some specific building codes and guidelines for the right type of construction. Stockpiling emergency food supplies, in widespread locations, where they will be needed so that they do not rely on some 3rd party involvement to distribute them.

What is your Emergency Action Plan (EAP)?  

Citizens should question what is the EAP (emergency action plan) at their workplaces. And how will they even be able to get home to their loved ones, or how can they even contact their loved ones when all the cell phones go out? How will people get around when roads are washed out or littered with fallen trees, debris, or flooded?

No Infrastructure is planned:  Currently, our government does not create this infrastructure because (we) the people do not demand it. If this was a priority for the people, and we actually asked for it, then the Govt would make it happen. “If you do not ask, you will not receive”. So I believe that it is best to think about all of this now before there is a disaster, and maybe we can get something in the works, not for the “what ifs”, but for the “when it” happens.

Don’t panic, prepare instead:  This discussion is not intended to make people feel insecure or panic, but is always a good idea to open your eyes to your current situation and assess your real level of vulnerability (in the case of various types of disaster). Then too we should also spare a thought for the most vulnerable members of our community beyond our immediate families, what will they do and where will they go? We need to protect everyone in our community, so we should always try to think beyond our own personal needs as well. 

Where are the shelters, the supplies, and the backup plans?

  • What is your EAP (emergency action plan) when disaster strikes? 
  • When my home gets flooded I will check into a hotel.
  • When there is a major disaster, I will book a flight to the mainland.
  • When there is a hurricane I will shelter at home, and then wait for help to arrive.
  • I will wait to be told to evacuate, and then go to the nearest shelter.
  • I have emergency supplies in my vehicle and at home, and I have an EAP for work as well. 

How you can make a difference:  Even if you do not have the money to build your own shelter or stock emergency supplies, then you can at least ask your government to do it for you. 

Be prepared:  It is not selfish to stock emergency supplies, and it is not hoarding if you do it in advance. It is only hoarding if you wait until the emergency is declared, and then rush out and grab all the remaining water off the shelves at the supermarket in a panic buy, and then not share it. Remember if you have adequate supplies already stockpiled, then you will not be just another burden on the emergency system, and you may even be able to help out other people when needed. Do not begrudge the people who are prepared, befriend them instead.

Those who can prepare should:  Not everyone can prepare everything, but those who can should, and each person should do what they can. Maybe one family has a big basement and their neighbor has a good food supply.  Think about a shared plan, and sharing the costs of preparing with your friends and neighbors. Maybe you have a swimming pool, which is a great emergency water source.

Take stock of your assets before they are needed and know where your nearest resources are.   

Good luck and stay safe.