Despite the first hurricane expected to hit Hawaii in 22 years weakening slightly, residents as well as tourists on the Big Island are leaving no stone unturned as they prepare for double whammy hurricanes Iselle and Julio.
On Thursday, Hawaiian Airlines announced waiving fees for travellers who would change flights as they opt to leave the place before the two hurricanes strike. Island Air likewise canceled afternoon flights between the islands. Caroline Sluyter, Hawaii Department of Transportation spokesperson, said state airports will remain open to accommodate flyers but warned the facilities are not shelters. "We advise travelers not to check out of their hotels unless they know for sure their flights are not canceled."
Financial banking institutions on the Big Island closed early on Thursday to prepare against the weather onslaught. These include American Savings Bank, Bank of Hawaii, Central Pacific Bank, First Hawaiian Bank and Hawaii National Bank. The banks' branches on Maui County were likewise closed. The banks expect to resume business on Friday.
Parks and attractions have been closed on the island (list).
Hurricane Iselle's eye was located 250 miles southeast of Hilo, moving 17 miles per hour. The National Weather Service expects to make landfall Thursday evening. It is expected to pour heavy rains and flooding in some areas.
Hurricane Julio, on the other hand, had strengthened into a Category 2 storm early Thursday. But weather forecasters said this weather disturbance might just pass north of the islands on Sunday morning.
The island's state and local governments as well as the National Guard have been mobilized for the double whammy hurricanes. Offices and schools have been closed. Emergency shelters have likewise been put in place across the state.
Hawaii was last hit by a hurricane, Iniki, in 1992. It killed six people and destroyed over 1,400 homes in Kauai. Hawaii seldom gets blasted by hurricanes. It only got to experience three hurricane wraths since 1950.