HONOLULU – Hawaii Gov. David Ige has formally requested a presidential disaster declaration as Tropical Storm Olivia gets closer to the islands.
The declaration asks President Donald Trump to declare the State of Hawaii a major disaster in the event that heavy rains and wind from Olivia cause significant damage and losses.
The governor is asking for direct federal support from Department of Defense assets for strategic airlift between the islands; temporary power generation at evacuation centers; technical assistance related to points of distribution and debris management action planning.
In addition, the governor is asking for immediate access to federal resources for search and rescue, potential medical evacuations, mass care and sheltering commodities and additional temporary power generation capabilities.
Ige also signed a memorandum granting state employees on the islands of Maui, Lanai and Molokai administrative leave as the state prepares for severe weather. State offices on Maui, Lanai and Molokai will be closed on Sept. 12.
However, state employees who fall into one of the following categories are required to report to work, unless it is determined that the employee can be excused — departmental disaster/emergency coordinators, disaster response workers, and employees whose work involves continuing crucial operations/services, such as hospital workers and correctional workers.
All public schools and Hawaii State Department of Education offices in Maui County will be closed Wednesday, and afters-chool activities remain canceled for Maui, Molokai and Lanai. All other schools statewide will be open Wednesday.
“In order to give our families on Maui, Molokai and Lanai time to prepare, and with the early release time on Wednesday, we will be closing all Maui County schools and offices in anticipation of the storm’s arrival,” said Superintendent Dr. Christina Kishimoto. “We appreciate everyone’s patience during this time as we work with our partner agencies to monitor the storm, and we will continue to make decisions based on the safety and well-being of our students and staff.”
The Hawaii Department of Transportation is preparing for potential impacts to state routes on Maui and is focusing on pre-staging plans for Hana Highway (Route 360).
HDOT responded to over a dozen landslide and tree fall events on Hana Highway between Aug. 23 and 28, and urges those unfamiliar with the route to avoid the area. A variable message sign will be posted in the Twin Falls area (approximately Mile Marker 2) to warn motorists of the potential for landslides. The VMS may be removed if it cannot be anchored to avoid causing potential threats in high winds.
HDOT continues to coordinate with federal, state, and county officials in preparation for Tropical Storm Olivia.