VIDEO: Hawaii residents prepare for Hurricane Lane

Storm had weakened to Category 4, but winds can still cause catastrophic damage

Hawaii residents rushed to stores to stock up on bottled water, ramen, toilet paper and other supplies as they faced the threat of heavy rain, flash flooding and high surf as a hurricane churned toward the state.

The National Weather Service said Wednesday that Hurricane Lane had weakened to a Category 4 hurricane, but those hurricanes with winds of more than 209 kph or above can still cause catastrophic damage.

More weakening was predicted, but the weather service said that “Lane is forecast to remain a dangerous hurricane as it draws closer to the Hawaiian Islands.”

The hurricane was about 800 kilometres southeast of Honolulu before dawn Wednesday and weather service extended a hurricane warning for Hawaii’s Big Island to include the island of Maui.

The weather service in a special statement said tropical-storm-force winds could begin as early as Wednesday afternoon or evening on the Big Island.

At the Costco Hawaii Kai, shoppers wiped out 21 pallets of water in 20 minutes just before 6 p.m. Tuesday.

So one woman emptied the vending machine, buying all the bottled water, a clerk said. A Costco employee promised more water would be available on Wednesday.

At Yamashiro Building Supply in Kaneohe, several patrons were buying plywood for the first time.

Sharon Sakai, 71, bought plastic sheeting and two 4-by-8-foot boards, “in case I need it for picture windows and skylights.”

“Thought about getting it in the past, but this time I thought I should have it on hand,” she said, adding that her son would be putting it up. “Hopefully, we won’t need it.”

But she wasn’t sure how to secure it to her windows. “We’ll tackle it when the time comes.”

Hawaii Kai resident Chris Daniel, 50, opted for duct tape.

“They say anytime there’s an emergency, you should get it. Plywood? That’s too hard for me to do. If you’re not strong enough, you have to use tape and pray.”

Paul Wilson of Laie, with his wife and five children at Costco, piled high a shopping cart and a flatbed cart with six cases of water, peanut butter, tuna, nuts, refried beans and toilet paper.

“We don’t want our children to go hungry,” he said. They were prepared for two weeks. “If it hits, which we hope it doesn’t, we have a lot of little mouths.”

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