Hawaiians are reeling after Hurricane Lane lashed the state with winds of up to 60 miles per hour and rainfall that destroyed roads, homes, and businesses. The storm dumped over four feet of rain in just three days, causing flash floods that forced evacuations—even as the storm departed the state. Attorney Bill Voss examines the damage after this severe storm and advises victims to file their insurance claims sooner rather than later.
Early Reports of Damage Caused by Hurricane Lane
Hurricane Lane, which has been classified as a Category 5 tropical storm by the National Weather Service, slowed as it approached the Island of Hawaii on August 22, 2018. According to the National Weather Service, residents experienced the wettest three-day period on record from Wednesday to Friday, achieving the fourth-highest rainfall from a hurricane to hit the United States since 1950.
Fortunately, no casualties have been reported. However, the storm has caused extensive damage to the Big Island, including:
- Flooding. Federal Emergency Management Agency Administrator (FEMA) officials have issued flash flood warnings that remained in effect even after the storm turned away from the island. Although rainfall has tapered off and the storm’s winds have weakened, many homes remain under several feet of water with basements and foundations completely flooded. At least 20 residents on the island were rescued by authorities from flooded homes and roads, with several more evacuating by choice throughout the course of the storm. Residents will not be able to return to their homes until authorities clear the area and flood waters recede, making the initial damage to roofs and foundations much more severe.
- Road closures. Police, firefighters, and other emergency responders worked to rescue and reroute people who had become stranded due to flooded roads. Road closings are expected to continue as the waters recede, as these areas will need to be examined for safety before traffic can resume.
- Landslides. Water spilled like rapids over the mountainous areas of the island, breaking off mud and plants that washed out the roads below. The number of uprooted trees are making ongoing road clearing efforts difficult, as they float into low-lying areas and become entangled with cars and other debris. Authorities estimate it could take weeks to clear and remove the debris left after the storm, especially since the threat of landslides has not yet passed.
- Business closures. Residents may be unable to find open stores near them as business owners cope with interruptions due to structural damage, road closures, power outages, and suspended deliveries. Port closures and canceled cargo flights due to the storm have affected the ability to restock for many businesses, resulting in income losses that could have permanent consequences.
- Lost vehicles. The depth of the water caused the loss of numerous vehicles on the island, with parked cars lifted off of their wheels and carried away by flood waters. Some cars were abandoned as water reached up to their windows, with empty vehicles pushed sideways along the roadway by high-pressure torrents.
Owners whose homes or businesses have been damaged by Hurricane Lane are advised to file insurance claims as quickly as possible, since there will likely be a backlog of claims following the storm. Residents who have suffered total losses may be reimbursed for their temporary living expenses, property damage, and other costs through hurricane insurance, while those who are not covered under a standard insurance policy may be able to recover under the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP) or qualify for federal assistance.
If you or someone you love has been affected by Hurricane Lane, our attorneys can work to get you full and fair payment from your insurance provider. Simply fill out the form on this page today to contact an insurance attorney at the Voss Law Firm or order a free copy of our book, Commercial Property Owners Must Read This BEFORE Filing an Insurance Claim.