Corps of Engineers ready for Hurricane Lane

By C. Todd Lopez

WASHINGTON (Aug. 24, 2018) -- As Hurricane Lane approaches Hawaii, and rain pours down on the island paradise, the Army's Corps of Engineers has said it's ready to provide help if called upon to do so.

Ray Alexander, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers director for contingency operations, told reporters Friday morning that the Corps already has experts in Hawaii in advance of Hurricane Lane's landfall, so that leadership structures will be in place if the Federal Emergency Management Agency calls upon Army engineers to provide assistance.

"The Corps is fully engaged and prepared to respond as needed," Alexander said. "Our Pacific Ocean Division leadership -- they're headquartered on Oahu -- are forward subject-matter experts for temporary power, debris removal, and infrastructure assessment."

Those experts, Alexander said, are now working with both Hawaii state leadership and FEMA personnel to anticipate what might be needed in the way of recovery assistance, and to plan the post-hurricane response. Those experts, he said, are on the Island of Oahu and Kauai.

"What we have in place are temporary power subject-matter experts and planning and response teams," Alexander said. "They are forward and working with state and local officials in identifying the requirements so that as we get mission assignment to begin installation of generators -- we are prepared to do that."

Alexander also said that the Corps is working with the U.S. Coast Guard and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration to ensure that federal waterways in Hawaii "are quickly surveyed and opened" following the hurricane.

As of 8 a.m. eastern time Friday, NOAA predicted that Hurricane Lane "will move over, or dangerously close to portions of the main Hawaiian islands" by evening.

The agency said rainfall could be anywhere from 10 to 20 inches in some locations, and as much as 40 inches in other locations. "Over two feet of rain has already fallen at a few locations on the windward side of the Big Island," reported the agency, which also added that the continued rain could lead to "life-threatening flash flooding and landslides."

NOAA also reported that winds are expected to exceed 120 mph in some cases. While the hurricane is expected to weaken some by Saturday, NOAA said "Lane is expected to remain a dangerous hurricane as it approaches the islands."