Types of Disaster

Click on the titles below to learn more about the different types of disasters.

Hurricane     Tsunami     Flash Flood     Earthquake     Wildfire


Hurricane

During Hurricane Season conditions such as sea-surface temperatures and surface pressure are favorable to the development of tropical cyclones

Before a Hurricane

  • Board up windows. Tape DOES NOT prevent windows from breaking.
  • Be sure trees and shrubs around your home are well trimmed and secure outdoor furniture and loose objects.
  • Clear rain gutters and downspouts.
  • Listen to the radio or television for updated weather information.
  • Turn off utilities if instructed to do so. Otherwise, turn the refrigerator thermostat to its coldest setting and keep its doors closed.
  • Avoid using the phone, except for serious emergencies. Consider texting.
  • Ensure a supply of water for sanitary purposes like flushing toilets.
  • Prepare to evacuate when directed to by local authorities or when you feel you are in danger. Have a plan for what to do with your pets if you need to evacuate. Take your emergency supply kit with you.

During a Hurricane

  • Stay indoors away from windows, skylights and glass doors.
  • Secure and brace exterior doors.
  • Close interior doors and take refuge in a small interior room, like a closet or hallway, on the lowest level of your home.

After the Hurricane has Passed

  • When safe to do so, return to your home to assess the damage. Take photos to document the damage for insurance purposes.
  • Be aware of hazards, i.e. down power lines, broken gas lines, contaminated water, weakened structures, broken glass, etc.
  • Remove standing water from your home including soiled carpets, mattresses and other items which may contribute to the growth of mold.
  • Contact your insurance agent.

Tsunami

  • A tsunami is a series of ocean wave masses generated primarily by earthquakes.
  • Underwater volcanic eruptions and landslides can also generate tsunamis.
  • It is difficult to predict a tsunami, the public are urged to prepare for an event with little warning.
  • Tsunamis can strike year-round and during any time of the day or night.

Before a Tsunami Event

  • If there is a tsunami warning, evacuate your house or place of work for higher ground if you are in a tsunami evacuation zone.
  • If you are near the ocean and you feel the earth shake, move immediately to higher ground.
  • If you are unable to quickly leave the tsunami evacuation zone, find a Structural steel or reinforced concrete buildings of ten or more stories and go to the fourth floor or higher; this is called vertical evacuation.
  • Know where your county’s Safe Zones or Refuge Centers are located. This is where people who have evacuated coastal areas can safely stay during a tsunami.

After a Tsunami Event

  • Tsunamis often come in multiple waves over a period of hours. Resist the temptation to watch the waves, especially if the water seems to draw back, exposing the ocean floor.
  • Return home only after authorities say it is safe to do so. Not only could there be hazards and debris in certain areas, but roads may still need to be clear for rescue and recovery efforts.
  • Help injured or trapped persons. Give first aid where appropriate – but only when the surroundings are safe.

Flash Flood

  • Causes most of the direct weather-related fatalities.
  • A person can be taken away in as little as 6 inches of water – a car in as little as 2 feet of water.
  • Can occur during or within a few hours after extended rainfall.
  • Commmunities particularly at risk are those located in low-lying areas, near water, or downstream from a dam.
  • The rapid flooding of streams, valleys, and other flood-prone areas can occur during any month of the year, but are more frequent during the months of October through April.
  • Since flood damage is almost never covered by homeowners insurance, flood insurance is important for people living in high-risk flood zones.

Before a Flood

Hawaii’s wet season is typically between October to March. Try some of these tips before the season starts, especially if you live in a flood-prone area:

  • Avoid building in a floodplain unless you elevate and reinforce your home.
  • Gather important documents such as your flood insurance policy. Flood losses are not covered under normal homeowners’ insurance policies.
  • Keep a supply of sandbags to direct floodwater away from your home.
  • Seal walls 1 to 2 feet above baseboards with waterproofing compounds.
  • Listen to the radio or television for information. Be aware of streams, drainage channels, roads, and other areas known to flood suddenly.
  • Be aware that flash flooding can occur quickly and without warning. Be prepared to evacuate and move immediately to higher ground. Do not wait for instructions to move.
  • Secure your home and elevate essential items. Turn off utilities if instructed to do so. Disconnect electrical appliances and do not touch electrical equipment if you are wet or standing in water.

During a Flash Flood

  • Listen for news reports to learn whether the community’s water supply is safe to drink. You may need to boil tap water before drinking.
  • Avoid floodwaters; water may be contaminated by oil, gasoline, or raw sewage. Water may also be electrically charged from underground or downed power lines. Keep away and report downed power lines to the power company.

After a Flood

  • Be aware of areas where floodwaters have receded; Roads may have weakened and could collapse under the weight of a car.
  • Return home only when authorities indicate it is safe.
  • Stay out of any building if it is surrounded by floodwaters as there may be hidden structural damage to the foundation.
  • Service damaged septic tanks, cesspools, and leaching systems as soon as possible. Damaged sewage systems are serious health hazards.
  • Clean and disinfect everything that got wet. Mud left from floodwater can contain sewage and chemicals.
  • Be sure to dry areas that may have been effected by flood water. Areas like drywall, carpet and flooring exposed to moisture may encounter mold growth later.

Earthquake

  • An earthquake is the sudden, sometimes violent movement of the earth’s surface from the release of energy in the earth’s crust.
  • Approximately 75% of the world’s seismic energy is released along the edges of the Pacific Ocean, where the thinner Pacific plate is forced beneath thicker continental crust. This 40,000 kilometer band of seismicity also known as the “Ring of Fire,” stretches up the west coasts of South and Central America and from the North American continent to the Aleutians, Japan, China, the Philippines, Indonesia, and Australia.
  • Active volcanoes in Hawaiʻi cause numerous earthquakes per day, most of which are too small to be registered by anything other than sensitive scientific equipment.

Before an Earthquake

  • Have a Family Earthquake Readiness Plan.
  • Locate a safe place in each room of the house.
  • Know how to turn off your gas and water main.

During an Earthquake

  • Drop down; take cover under a desk or table.
  • Stay indoors until the shaking stops and you’re sure it’s safe to exit outdoor.
  • Stay away from windows. In a high-rise building, expect the fire alarms and sprinklers to go off during a quake.
  • If you are outdoors, find a clear spot away from buildings, trees, and power lines. Drop to the ground.
  • If you are in a car, slow down and drive to a clear place. Stay in the car until the shaking has stopped and it’s safe to continue driving.

Wildfire

In Hawaii, wildfires occur on all six major islands: Kauaʻi, Oʻahu, Molokaʻi, Lāna‘i, Maui, and Hawai‘i Island. From 2000-2008 there were approximately 1107 wildfires in Hawai‘i, consuming over 98,000 acres of land, impacting life, industry, property, and natural resources.

Unlike the continental United States, Hawai‘i’s ecosystem—like that of other Pacific islands—does not adapt well to wildfire. According to local biologists, many other native plants are only a wildfire away from extinction.