President pledges 'full support' for islands as Lane nears

President pledges 'full support' for islands as Lane nears

Hurricane Lane has churned closer toward the heart of the Hawaiian islands as it weakened into a category two storm while still lashing the Big Island with raging surf, torrential rains and catastrophic flooding.

Hurricanes are rare in Hawaii, but Lane is expected to bring heavy rain and flooding, risky surf and strong winds as it continues to churn toward the islands.

A powerful hurricane unleashed torrents of rain and landslides Thursday that blocked roads on the rural Big Island but didn't scare tourists away from surfing and swimming at popular Honolulu beaches still preparing get pummeled by the erratic storm.

Hawaiians have been urged to buckle down with supplies as the island prepares to be hit by Hurricane Lane, a Category 4 cyclone.

Hawaii Gov. David Ige told residents to avoid floodwaters and runoff "due to possible overflowing cesspools, sewer, manholes, pesticides, animal fecal matter, dead animals, pathogens, chemicals, and associated flood debris". Kauai County, including the island of Niihau, is under a hurricane watch. Nearly 2,000 people on the island lost power, according to Maui Electric, but for most, it was quickly restored.

Parts of Hawaii's Big Island have already reported receiving more than 2 feet of rain as Hurricane Lane lurches northward at about 6 miles per hour.

"I opened up my front door, and I just saw the fire spreading and coming downhill", Galinato said.

As Lane approached Thursday evening, civil defense sirens pierced the cloudy Honolulu skies and federal officials pre-staged plane-loads of supplies in the country's most isolated state, hoping to prevent a repeat of the government's bungled response to Hurricane Maria's in Puerto Rico.

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The Big Island began feeling the impact of Hurricane Lane yesterday, as the outer rain bands swept through the island.

Hurricane Lane will continue to bring heavy rain across the state, "leading to significant and life-threatening flash flooding and landslides", according to the National Weather Service.

Chevalier says Oahu and Maui are will face hurricane or tropical storm conditions later Friday.

Major flooding could damage 3,000 structures and cost more than $1 billion in repairs, the Honolulu Star-Advertiser newspaper reported, citing corps estimates. "We are grateful to the President and FEMA for the swift approval of our request as our state braces for the severe weather ahead", the governor said.

In its 1200 GMT bulletin, the Honolulu-based branch of the National Weather Service said the now Category Three hurricane was packing winds in excess of 120 miles per hour (195 kilometers per hour).

The Federal Emergency Management Agency said it has prepared food, water, generators and other commodities to help with emergency resources.

"It was quite an experience because we weren't planning to have a hurricane during our vacation time", Demerais said. Hawaii rarely gets hit.

According to NWS, only four named storms have made landfall in Hawaii since 1959 - and only two of those storms were hurricanes. Others have come close in recent years.

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