Hawaiian Electric activates emergency response plans as Hurricane Douglas nears

  • Hawaiian Electric is closely monitoring Hurricane Douglas and making emergency preparations as the storm approaches.

  • The company is assigning and pre-positioning workers and equipment as needed.

  • The company is in contact with the Western Regional Mutual Assistance Group and other utility organizations ready to provide people and equipment as needed.

Release Date: 7/24/2020

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HONOLULU, July 24, 2020 – As Hurricane Douglas heads closer to the islands, Hawaiian Electric has activated its emergency response plans and is readying crews to respond where needed.

The company is closely monitoring Hurricane Douglas’s movement to move crews and equipment to areas most likely to be affected. A hurricane watch has been issued for Hawaii Island and Maui County, with wind and rain expected to reach Hawaii Island late Saturday. Heavy rain and wind gusts are expected to move into parts of Maui County and on Oahu Sunday, depending on the storm track.

“Hawaiian Electric will make every effort to keep the power on, but the electric grids are not storm-proof,” said Ron Cox, senior vice president of operations. “There will be outages if the islands are hit by powerful winds, torrential rain and flooding. Like everyone else, our operations have been affected by COVID-19 safety protocols and we ask for everyone’s patience – we’ll work as quickly and safely as possible to restore power.”

Hawaiian Electric’s emergency responders are going through pre-storm checklists to ensure critical preparations are made. Here is what the companies are doing ahead of Hurricane Douglas:

  • Crews from Oahu are prepared to mobilize to any location within our five-island service territory that may need additional support.
  • Workers are taking inventory of fuel supply, checking generators, and ensuring that equipment inside and outside facilities is secure.
  • With nearly half of Hawaiian Electric’s workforce working remotely because of the COVID-19 pandemic, the company is conducting its emergency planning through virtual meetings. It will continue to limit the number of people in its facilities, especially in control areas and power plants, to minimize the potential for spreading the virus.
  • The company has more than 500 contractors in place if needed. For instance, Hawaiian Electric has secured commitments from contractors for various services such as tree trimming, pole digging, electrical, and construction work.
  • The company is working with their response partners, including civil defense agencies, FEMA and other government entities.
  • The company is in contact with the Western Regional Mutual Assistance Group, which is comprised of dozens of utilities ready to provide utility workers and equipment as needed.

After the storm, front-line workers will continue to practice social distancing in the field and the public is asked to stay back and let them work safely.

Anyone who sees a downed power line should always assume it’s energized. Stay back at least 30 feet (3 car lengths) and call 911.

Before storm season, the company conducts extensive emergency response training. In 2019, Hawaiian Electric invested more than $220 million to upgrade and reinforce poles, lines and equipment and to clear vegetation from critical transmission corridors and neighborhood circuits.

More electrical safety and preparation tips are available in the company’s Handbook for Emergency Preparedness, available in five languages, at www.hawaiianelectric.com/prepare.