Utahns living in Hawaii prepare for Hurricane Lane

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KONA, Hawaii – A Utah family now living on the Big Island is bracing for Hurricane Lane.

Tara Palepoi lives in Kona and spoke to Fox 13 via Facetime about what she’s experienced. She said it’s been a virtual ghost town since residents were told to grab what they can and shelter in place.

“Schools have closed. Water bottles are all sold out. Cases of water gone. The shelves where all the food sits at Safeway and Wal-Mart are dwindling off. There’s a little bit of a panic here.”

With overnight torrential downpours, Lane is expected to be the most powerful storm to reach the islands in 25 years. People aren’t taking any chances.

“Some of the homes have been boarded up back there,” said Palepoi. “A lot of the restaurants downtown that are right on the water that got wiped out in our last tsunami when Japan had an earthquake, they’re all boarded up.”

In Hilo, former Utahn Erik Stephens sent us video showing the flooding outside his home. Rivers are running through neighborhoods. Forecasters predict a significant threat to lives and property. All people can do is wait and hope their preparations are sufficient.

“The biggest fear would be the devastation it would cause to Iniki caused back in the day,” said Palepoi. “Just being without a home, being without food, being without your everyday conveniences.”

There are two members of Utah’s Task Force One who arrived on the Big Island Wednesday morning. They are part of FEMA’s Urban Search and Rescue Team. Depending on the need, their deployment could last two weeks.

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