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How to prepare property for a hurricane


The best time to prepare your home is before a hurricane looms.

Hawaii County Civil Defense offers these tips: Before a storm, buy plywood or other material to protect your home. Clear loose and clogged rain gutters and downspouts. Trim trees and shrubbery.

People living in houses built prior to the new building code should evaluate whether it’s feasible to install hurricane clips on rafters and joists.

It’s best to get building materials as soon as possible, noted Joe Foglia, operations manager at HPM Building Supply’s Kailua-Kona store.

“If there’s a hurricane coming, there’s going to be a push,” said Foglia. “We just pray we have enough stock. … Fifty families can come in and clean you out.”

Foglia said 1-by-6- or 1-by-10-inch boards will probably protect windows as well as plywood, at a fraction of the cost. Quarter-inch plywood, he said costs $25 to $30 a sheet.

If a hurricane watch is called, prepare to cover all windows and doors with shutters or other shielding materials such as boards or plywood.

Collect all the lightweight objects around your home such as garden tools, garbage cans, potted plants, toys and lawn furniture and bring them indoors.

People who live on farms should take extra care securing farm animals and livestock, said Hawaii County Civil Defense Director Darryl Oliveira. He noted Kauai’s large feral chicken population probably started out as domesticated chickens let loose by Hurricane Iniki in 1992.

“People should secure and protect their farm animals,” Oliveira said.

If a hurricane warning is called, close storm shutters or cover and brace plywood against your windows.

While homeowners in the past used masking tape across their windows to help secure then, Mike Cantin, a meteorologist at the Central Pacific Hurricane Center in Honolulu, says this is no longer advised.

“We recommend folks don’t do that,” said Cantin. “First off, it doesn’t do much good … and you’re using the time you could spend doing other things (to prepare for the storm).”

Wooden shutters or plywood panels affixed to the outside of the windows is still the best bet, he said.

Do not stay in your home if it is poorly constructed, not retrofitted to be hurricane resistant or is close to the shore.

People should decide before a hurricane hits whether they want to stay home or go to a shelter. Regardless, if your area is under an evacuation order, you should be prepared to leave.

Oliveira said every resident should have a portable radio to be ready for updates when disaster strikes. Don’t rely on your television, which could be subject to power failures and, based on Oahu, may not cover the local information that you need, he said.

Turn your refrigerator to maximum cold and keep it closed. Turn off utilities if told to do so by authorities. Fill bathtubs and large containers with water in case water is unavailable. Unplug small appliances.

If winds become strong, turn off propane tanks, close all interior doors. Secure and brace external doors.