As Hurricane Lane barrels toward Hawaii, residents are preparing for the worst.
About 49,000 homes are facing an extreme or very high risk of flood damage as a result of the Category 4 storm, according to an analysis from real estate data firm CoreLogic. The storm, which has the same strength as Hurricane Harvey, which ravaged Houston last year, could result in more than $8 billion in reconstruction costs. It’s expected to either pass close to the islands or make landfall as early as Thursday or Friday.
Even if Lane doesn’t touch down on land, the storm could still cause severe flooding. The effects are expected to be the worst in the southwestern portions of the state closest to the eye of the storm. If it does make landfall, Lane would be the first hurricane to do so in the Aloha State in 26 years. (The last one was Hurricane Iniki, in 1992.)
The island of Oahu is expected to suffer the most damage. It’s the most populated of the islands, and home to the state capital of Honolulu. More than 36,100 homes are at extreme or high risk of flood damage, according to CoreLogic.
Meanwhile, about 7,150 homes on Maui are at the same level of risk—as are 3,500 homes on Kauai and nearly 1,900 homes on the island of Hawaii.
“It’s not necessarily the storm surge that has the biggest impact. It’s the amount of rainfall that happens in a short duration that’s going to cause most of the damage,” Mark Drollinger, who oversees CoreLogic’s natural hazards products, tells realtor.com®. “As the water saturates the ground, you have the potential for mudslides.”
The looming danger spurred President Donald Trump to tweet on Wednesday morning: “Everyone in the path of #HurricaneLane please prepare yourselves, heed the advice of State and local officials, and follow @NWSHonolulu for updates. Be safe!” (@NWSHonolulu is the local National Weather Service’s Twitter account.)
He approved a state disaster declaration on Wednesday.
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) August 22, 2018
Local officials have asked residents to seek shelter or prepare to ride out the storm in their homes—if they think their abodes can withstand the wind and rain. CNN observed long lines at the airports, as people tried to get off the Polynesian islands in time.
Hawaii Gov. David Ige has urged residents staying behind to have at least two weeks’ worth of food, water, and other supplies in case they’re forced to shelter in place. Public schools have been canceled and many government employees are being told not to come in, according to CNN. Some roads have already been closed due to flooding and landslides.
“I urge our residents and visitors to take this threat seriously and prepare for a significant impact,” he said in an emergency proclamation.
“Maui has not faced anything like this before. It’s serious,” Maui resident Audrey Reed, 76, told the New York Times on Wednesday. “We’ve got everything we need: batteries, water, canned and dry foods, medication, first-aid kit, flashlights. It’s just a matter now of hunkering down and trying to ride it out.”
This isn’t the only natural disaster the state has faced in recent months. The Kilauea volcano erupted on May 3 on the big island of Hawaii on May 3, destroying an estimated 700 homes.
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