As two hurricane-strength storms approach Oahu, the city has no comprehensive emergency plan in place for the densely-populated, low-lying area of Waikiki, which could experience storm surges, high winds, flooding and flying debris, according to John Cummings, a spokesman for Honolulu’s Department of Emergency Management.
And a statewide plan for a major hurricane only includes Oahu, not the neighbor islands, which have been hardest hit by hurricanes and tropical storms in past decades.
As of Wednesday evening, Hurricane Iselle was approaching the Big Island with maximum sustained winds of 90 miles per hour, making it a Category 1 hurricane. The Big Island could begin experiencing high winds Thursday afternoon and hurricane conditions later in the evening.
Maui, Kauai and Oahu could experience tropical storm conditions starting Thursday night.
While there is no official plan in place for Waikiki, Cummings said that there are general guidelines that residents and tourists should follow.
Since there’s a major shortage of shelter space, people in Waikiki high-rises should evacuate “vertically.” This means that if you are in a building with six floors or more, you should move to the third floor or higher to avoid high water.
However, if you are in an inundation zone and in a building constructed before 1955, it could be subject to flooding and likely wasn’t built to withstand Category 1 winds.
Federal and city officials said that to their knowledge there is no available list of buildings in Waikiki that were built before 1955, when Oahu building codes were revised to withstand high winds.
Furthermore, Cummings said that windows haven’t been subject to the same …