Last weekend, the islands of Hawaii prepared for the impact of Hurricane Lane. Upon its arrival, the hurricane was brought down to a tropical storm, where the intense rainfall still left many of the islands with severe flooding issues.
The Collegiate spoke with Peter Rosseg, a spokesman of the Hawaiian Electric Company about the damage Hurricane Lane caused on the islands.
“The actual damages were fairly limited,” Rosseg said. “From the electrical company’s point of view, we had a number of outages across our service territory. Sometimes up to 200-300, sometimes a 1,000 customers were briefly without power because of branches and debris that were flying around and colliding with our poles. We lost some poles on Maui island – if you go across the West Maui Mountains, they’re in the process of being replaced right now. That was the main problem – there are other things going on right now – there is considerable flooding on the island of Kauai from the rain that came in the aftermath.”
Hurricane Lane has set the record in terms of heaviest rain downpour in Hawaii. According to the National Weather Service, Lane dumped 52.02 inches of rainfall onto the islands.
“A lot of the damage is water damage – most of it from the aftermath,” Rosseg said. “I understand there are some bridges on Kauai island that are taking a lot of heavy runoff. So it’s a little early to say for sure how extensive the damage is. Considering what it might have been, or what we feared, it was fairly limited. We didn’t lose any generators – we didn’t lose a lot of poles. We ducked a bullet…mostly. We still have crews out assessing small kinds of problems and the breakage on poles.”
Rosseg later discussed the complications of restoring electrical poles after a tropical storm, especially those in remote areas of Hawaii.
“Putting up a pole is always tricky,” Rosseg said. “Especially if a lot of the poles were lost in… fairly remote areas. They didn’t have enough poles on Maui to replace what was needed. So on Sunday, we used poles that we had available from Oahu, the main island. Putting them up is about an 8-hour job – if things are all going very well.”
Due to the storm’s downgrade in wind speeds once it arrived over Hawaii, there are no current power outage complications.
“Because we never had a really heavy hit on the wind, we were able to continually repair as we went along,” Rosseg said.
If you might happen to see a broken down pole on the ground, or is caught in an emergency situation regarding electrical wires, Rosseg provided some advice on the matter.
“We are always telling people that you have no way of knowing by looking at it – whether a wire is lying on the ground, if it has energy flowing or not,” Rosseg said. “You should be absolutely careful and safe – I always say 30 feet away. Many people don’t realize that electricity can flow through the ground. So if you get too close, you have the chance to be electrocuted even if you don’t touch it.”
More assessments are underway to provide more information on the damages caused by Hurricane Lane. You can read our coverage on Grand Rapids Community College’s volleyball team weathering the storm here.