Sandbags and plywood become necessities for many as Hurricane Douglas approaches Hawaii

CRAIG T. KOJIMA /CKOJIMA@STARADVERTISER.COM. Marie Heff Coudrien shoveled sand for sandbags to guard her home on South Kalaheo Street in Kailua.

Staradvertiser- As Hurricane Douglas became more of a threat to Hawaii on Friday, many residents and business owners did more to prepare for possible impacts.

Marie Heff Coudrier spent the afternoon making her own sandbags using duct tape and empty industrial- size bags that once held cedar shavings to protect her house in Kailua from potential flooding.

“It’s not pretty but it’ll work,” she said.

Not far away, at the Kailua Hardware Hawaii store, Mike Joyce loaded four plywood panels, each measuring 8 by 4 feet, into his Honda minivan to take home and board up windward-facing windows on his house.

“It looks like (Douglas) is going to get pretty close,” he said. “I just hope it misses the island.”

In Iwilei, Casey Bullao was at Home Depot with plans to buy a half-dozen 5-gallon buckets to store drinking water. He also was buying batteries and a device that operates as a phone charger, radio and flashlight that can be powered by a hand crank if necessary.

On Hawaii island Brian Brokaw, a manager at HPM Building Supply in Hilo, said the flow of customers stocking up on hurricane supplies began Wednesday and probably peaked Thursday, perhaps in part because the storm’s projected path rose away from the Big Island after a more concerning forecast Thursday.

Still, the Big Island remained under a hurricane watch Friday with some risk of receiving at least tropical storm-force winds. So business was still brisk.

“We’ve seen a flurry of activity,” Brokaw said, rattling off a list of popular items being bought that included generators, batteries, gas cans, plywood, bottled water, flashlights and more.

At the Kailua Hardware Hawaii, manager Craig Morrison said generators sold out Friday morning. Top- selling items included polycarbonate panels for covering windows, plywood, empty sandbags and packages of sand.

As of Friday evening the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration said Maui had the highest risk of suffering sustained tropical storm-force winds of at least 39 mph, and the island, along with Molokai and Lanai as well as Oahu, was under a hurricane watch.

NOAA said Douglas had maximum sustained winds of 115 mph as of 5 p.m., making it a Category 3 storm.

“It could very easily come right over the island of Maui,” said Curtis Takaoka, president of Tasty Crust Restaurant in Wailuku.

The restaurant reopened for business June 11 after shutting down for a few weeks because of the new coronavirus, and on Friday, Takaoka decided not to open Sunday, when the storm is expected to be within a dangerous range.

It may be hard to think of worse timing for a hurricane to hit Hawaii, during the coronavirus pandemic, but the thought is on plenty of minds, including Takaoka’s.

“A lot of people are saying (sardonically), ‘All we need now is a storm,’” Takaoka said. “Well, here it is.”

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