Emergency officials are breathing a small sigh of relief as Guillermo’s track shifted slightly to the north Monday.
“That was a lot of good news to us because it’s further north. It looks like the tropical storm force winds may not impact the majority of the island chain,” said Vern Miyagi with the Hawaii Emergency Mangement Agency.
But they are preparing for the worst and encourage residents to do the same. All the counties continue to talk to each other on a daily basis about their plans.
On the Big Island, the fire department spent the day doing flyovers along the eastern coastline. Staff also stopped to talk to residents.
“Just letting the campers and parties know in those areas if they’re not getting radio communications with our broadcasts what could be expected as far as the storm conditions,” said Darryl Oliveira, Hawaii County Civil Defense administrator.
On Oahu, city crews spent part of the day cutting vegetation and removing debris from ditches, including one in Salt Lake.
In Maui County, officials are concerned about rain and potential flooding.
“Departments are making sure that they have the appropriate fuel levels and things have been topped off and ready for that as well as implementing their hurricane preparedness checklist,” said Maui County managing director Keith Regan.
“On Maui County, for the vulnerable population, the seniors, they’re also coordinating additional meals to support them in this time of need,” Miyagi added.
Since the tropical storm is expected to bring high surf to the islands, the U.S. Coast Guard is urging mariners to prepare by securing boats and equipment.
A high surf advisory is currently in effect for east-facing shores of Hawaii Island through 6 p.m. Tuesday, but all counties are urging the public to stay safe and cautious.
Honolulu’s Ocean Safety & Lifeguard Services will evaluate the surf heights in the morning to determine the necessary measures needed to help keep the public safe. Lifeguards could see ocean surges from the storm, which could be life-threatening. The surge, combined with the high tide around 7:15 p.m. Tuesday, could produce large volumes of water and dangerous conditions.
Officials advise people to use extreme caution and listen to all warnings from lifeguards. Don’t get caught by surprise and swept away into the heavy surf or strong currents. Wet sand or rock ledges can mean the waves are sweeping the area.
Above all, make sure homes are ready.
“Know your neighborhood. Know who’s there so you can help each other. We talk about evacuation. Sometimes it’s not good to come to a shelter, but check with your neighbors and your families, get together with them and work it out,” Miyagi advised.
Officials have not decided yet whether to close schools or open emergency shelters.