Hawaii Residents and Visitors Urged to Follow Direction of Local Officials

The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), through its National Watch Center in Washington and its Pacific Area Office in Oahu, continues to monitor Tropical Storm Ana in the Pacific Ocean. FEMA remains in close, direct contact with emergency management partners in Hawaii.

According to the National Weather Service, Tropical Storm Ana, currently located about 400 miles southeast of Hilo, Hawaii, is moving westward at about 10 mph, with maximum sustained winds near 60 mph. The current track takes the center of Ana south of the Big Island Friday night and Saturday, then south of Oahu and Kauai over the weekend. A Tropical Storm Watch and Flash Flood Watch are in effect for the Big Island. The National Weather Service’s Central Pacific Hurricane Center is the official source of tropical storm activity in and around Hawaii.

“As always, I urge residents and visitors to follow the direction of state and local officials,” FEMA Administrator Craig Fugate said. “Be prepared and stay tuned to local media – weather conditions can change quickly as these storms approach.”

When disasters occur, the first responders are local emergency and public works personnel, volunteers, humanitarian organizations and numerous private interest groups who provide emergency assistance required to protect the public’s health and safety and to meet immediate human needs.

In addition to the FEMA personnel who are on the ground year round in its Pacific Area Office, FEMA also deployed a liaison officer to the emergency operations center in Hawaii to help coordinate any requests for federal assistance. A FEMA Incident Management Assistance Team (IMAT) is on the ground in Hawaii to coordinate with state and local officials, should support be requested, or needed. FEMA’s Region IX office mobilized its regional response coordination center (RRCC) in Oakland, California to support Hawaii’s disaster response activities, while other federal agencies that support FEMA during disaster responses are accompanying FEMA’s IMAT and participating in its RRCC.

At all times, FEMA maintains commodities, including millions of liters of water, millions of meals and hundreds of thousands of blankets, strategically located at distribution centers throughout the United States and its territories.

Safety and Preparedness Tips

Residents and visitors in potentially affected areas should be familiar with evacuation routes, have a communications plan, keep a battery-powered radio handy and have a plan for their pets.
Storm surge can be the greatest threat to life and property from a tropical storm or hurricane. It poses a significant threat for drowning and can occur before, during, or after the center of a storm passes through an area. Storm surge can sometimes cut off evacuation routes, so do not delay leaving if an evacuation is ordered for your area.
Driving through a flooded area can be extremely hazardous and almost half of all flash flood deaths happen in vehicles. When in your car, look out for flooding in low lying areas, at bridges and at highway dips. As little as six inches of water may cause you to lose control of your vehicle.
If you encounter flood waters, remember – turn around, don’t drown.
Get to know the terms that are used to identify severe weather and discuss with your family what to do if a watch or warning is issued.
For a Tropical Storm:

A Tropical Storm Watch is issued when tropical cyclone containing winds of at least 39 MPH or higher poses a possible threat, generally within 48 hours.
A Tropical Storm Warning is issued when sustained winds of 39 MPH or higher associated with a tropical cyclone are expected in 36 hours or less.
For Flash Flooding:

A Flash Flood Watch is issued when conditions are favorable for flash flooding.
A Flash Flood Warning is issued when flash flooding is imminent or occurring.
A Flash Flood Emergency is issued when severe threat to human life and catastrophic damage from a flash flood is imminent or ongoing.
More safety tips on hurricanes and tropical storms can be found at www.ready.gov/hurricanes.