HDOT post-Olivia recap

Posted on Sep 14, 2018 in Airports News, Harbors News, Highways News, Main, News

No major impacts were felt at Hawaii Airports and Harbors; Highways crews responded to approximately 30 events on Maui, Molokai, and Oahu between Sept. 11 and 13.

HONOLULU – The Hawaii Department of Transportation (HDOT) provides the following recap of impacts on state transportation infrastructure from the former Tropical Storm Olivia and thanks the various agencies involved in hazard preparedness, response, and recovery for their partnership and guidance during this event.

“The protection of our state’s critical infrastructure requires the cooperation of many different agencies—from the FAA, and the airline industry to Federal Highways and emergency management at all levels of government,” said Hawaii Department of Transportation Director Jade Butay. “Our partners were all on standby during Olivia and we are thankful for their commitment to work together in emergencies.”

HDOT’s six airports in Maui County (Kahului, Kapalua, Hana, Kapalua, Molokai, and Lanai) were fully operational throughout Tropical Storm Olivia. Maui District Airports staff continues to conduct assessments but reported minimal damage and impacts to flight operations.

As the Tropical Storm Warning was in effect, flight information boards at Hilo International Airport, Kahului Airport, the Daniel K. Inouye International Airport, and Lihue Airport were activated to inform incoming passengers of the weather alerts.

Throughout this and other weather events, HDOT reminds the public that Hawaii airports will remain open unless there is damage to the runway or terminal facilities and encouraged air travelers with confirmed tickets for travel to check with their airline for potential flight delays, cancelations, or travel waivers before going to the airport.

HDOT Harbors Division staff coordinated with the United States Coast Guard (USCG) and the Hawaii Harbors Users Group on heavy weather preparedness to ensure that Hawaii’s commercial ports could open quickly after the passage of Tropical Storm Olivia.

A key strategy in ensuring that cargo movement could resume as quickly as possible was the minimization of potential damage to harbor facilities. Prior to hurricane season, HDOT staff communicated with harbor users and made clear additional HDOT requirements to evacuate ports prior to Port Condition Zulu. These requirements, which include submission and HDOT approval of a heavy weather plan and confirmation of a tug assist for each vessel remaining in port, were reiterated to HDOT harbor users the week before the approach of Tropical Cyclone Olivia.

Several vessels submitted requests to remain in port and provided heavy weather plans showing specifics on how they would secure their vessels and staff lines during the storm. Several vessels were unresponsive during Tropical Storm Olivia and will be subject to fines and possible cancelation of their revocable permits.

The USCG Captain of the Port placed commercial harbors statewide in Zulu on Tuesday, Sept. 11, 2018. By 5 p.m. Wednesday, Sept. 12, 2018, all commercial harbors statewide were returned to Hurricane Season readiness and harbor operations resumed.

The minimal disruption was possible due to the coordination and cooperation between HDOT, USCG Sector Honolulu, the Captain of the Port, who makes the final determination on the safety and suitability of the ports to resume cargo operations, and the Hawaii Harbor Users Group (HHUGS).

HDOT Highways Division staff responded to approximately 30 separate flooding, debris removal, tree fall, and landslide/rockfall events on Maui, Molokai, and Oahu between Sept. 11 and 13. There was no significant damage to any state routes due to Tropical Storm Olivia or the associated heavy rains; however, the United States Department of Transportation (USDOT), Federal Highways Administration (FHWA), and the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) were ready to support in the emergency restoration of essential travel routes if needed.

At several points during the storm, roadways were unpassable due to water, trees, or debris in travel lanes. HDOT reminds the public to avoid travel during unsafe storm conditions and to report obstructions in travel lanes through 9-1-1. It is not recommended to exit your vehicle and attempt to remove large obstructions as this may result in injury or death.

Fallen utility poles or debris touching power lines may also pose a threat on roadways during high wind events. These obstructions must be dealt with by trained individuals as they can remain energized and dangerous. Motorists are reminded to remain at least 30 feet away from downed power lines.

The public is also reminded to dispose of green waste in a responsible manner as HDOT crews removed a large tree from under the Kalihi Stream Bridge on Sept. 13. This bridge had previously been cleared of debris following Hurricane Lane in late August. Green waste or other items dumped into streams are often washed downstream in severe weather events and become hazards causing damage to bridges or flooding.

HDOT thanks the public for their attention to the weather alerts and notifications and will continue to use available tools such as its social media accounts, https://www.facebook.com/HawaiiDepartmentOfTransportation/ and https://twitter.com/DOTHawaii, and the HDOT website to post on weather impacts to state routes.