Resilience & Disaster Management

By 2030, to withstand and recover from acute physical shocks and chronic stresses by reducing vulnerability, building resilience, and increasing adaptive capacity.

Hawai‘i is vulnerable to climate-related severe weather events and prolonged hazards, including natural disasters, sea-level rise, wildfires and increased flooding, the impact of which is aggravated in communities with aging infrastructure. At the same time, Hawai’i is also financially vulnerable to catastrophic natural disasters, relying on federal post-disaster funding in the event of a disaster. For example, a single category 4 hurricane making landfall in Waikīkī could result in an estimated $30 billion in direct economic losses (Sea-Level Rise Coastal Inundation Risk and Vulnerability Assessment for Honolulu).  With 70% of Hawaiʻi’s jobs in the tourism and food services industry, Hawaiʻi is economically vulnerable to the fluctuations in the visitor industry. The Hawaiʻi Tourism Authority’s 2020-2025 Strategic Plan notes several threats to the industry, including natural disasters and the consequences of climate change, political events, and epidemics such as COVID-19. 
As a result, there is increasing interest in leveraging private sector investment and reinsurance tools to offset financial risks and better plan for future events. An effective risk management strategy requires building community resilience, increasing public understanding of the impact of both acute shocks and stressors, and providing information on shelter provisions. There are opportunities to build resilience through integrated and cross-sector statewide community resilience plans, including an emphasis on public education.

Spotlight: COVID-19 Outbreak

The COVID-19 pandemic caused disruptions at the scale of a natural disaster, leading to not only a public health crisis, but also an economic crisis that affected supply chains, travel, tourism, and business and social activities. The outbreak has revealed both vulnerabilities and strengths in Hawaiʻi’s ability to withstand this crisis.  
This spotlight on COVID-19 tracks metrics on the state of Hawaiʻi’s resilience and adaptive capacity in the face of this crisis. Specifically, data is presented on:
1.   How well Hawaiʻi is able to slow the outbreak through social distancing
2.  How communities in Hawaiʻi have responded with aloha
3.  Hawaiʻi’s public health preparedness
4.  A case study of the 2008 Financial Crisis and its impacts on the Aloha+ 2030 Challenge goals and targets

COVID-19 Spotlight: Slowing the Outbreak

In the absence of an effective vaccine or treatment of COVID-19, slowing the spread of the outbreak is the best way to protect vulnerable community members and ensure that Hawaiʻi’s health system can give people the care they need. “Flattening the curve” has become a common term for slowing the spread, referring to a flattening of the epidemic (or “epi”) curve by implementing measures to slow the rate of the virus’ transmission. On March 25, Hawaiʻi became the 16th state in the U.S. with a statewide stay-at-home order, and while this measure and other social distancing rules were not able to prevent deaths from occurring in Hawaiʻi, the state has conducted more testing, seen fewer cases, and experienced a slower spread compared to the rest of the U.S.
Hawaiʻi's Curve

Hawaiʻi’s epidemic curve shows the confirmed cases per 1 million people on a logarithmic scale, starting at the time the first case was confirmed (March 6, 2020 in Hawaiʻi). Hawaiʻi has been among the states with the slowest spread of COVID-19 (the “flattest curve”).  Select other states in the graphic below for comparison.

Source: visualization by the Hawaiʻi Data Collaborative and the 91-DIVOC Project, with primary data from the 2019 Novel Coronavirus COVID-19 (2019-nCoV) Data Repository by Johns Hopkins CSSE
Testing in Hawaiʻi
Sufficient testing is a key element of an effective COVID-19 response. The rate of testing depends on a number of factors including test kit availability, lab capacity, and robust reporting of suspected cases. As of April 20, Hawaiʻi’s had conducted over 25,000 tests. With a population of 1,416,000, this corresponds to a test rate of over 17 per 1,000 people – higher than the U.S. average of 12.08 per 1,000 people as of the same day. 
Testing in the US
This chart shows the cumulative testing done by the CDC and labs authorized by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration Emergency Use Authorization (EUA). Select different countries for comparison in the graphic (Note: testing protocols and reporting may vary by country). 
Source: Our World In Data with primary data for the U.S. from the COVID Tracking Project 
COVID-19 Spotlight: Social Distancing Measures
A statewide stay-at-home order took effect on March 25 and was extended to May 31st on April 21st for the City & County of Honolulu. Learn more about social distancing policies implemented in Hawaiʻi for residents and visitors at the state and county level in the storymap below:
City & County of Honolulu Dashboard:
The tracker above shows the City & County of Honolulu COVID-19 Information Dashboard live. SourceCity & County of Honolulu (One Oʻahu) 
County of Hawaiʻi Dashboard:
The tracker above shows the County of Hawaiʻi COVID-19 Cases & Planning Report. Source: County of Hawaiʻi

COVID-19 Spotlight: Responding with Aloha

As COVID-19 continues to impact Hawai‘i and the global community, vulnerable populations are in particular need of help, including access to food, medical equipment, essential supplies, and other support. In Hawaiʻi, individuals, communities, charitable organizations, and businesses connected and came together to respond with aloha to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Food Distribution Resources
In response to the COVID-19 outbreak and social distancing measures, schools, food distributors, charitable organizations, and farmers adjusted and increased their services to distribute food to keiki and kūpuna in need, while at the same time supporting local farmers through Food Hubs, and Community Supported Agriculture (CSA).
SourceHawaiʻi Geographic Information Coordinating Council (HIGICC) with primary data from the City & County of Honolulu Elderly Affairs Division, Go Farm Hawaiʻi, Hawaiʻi County Economic Opportunity Council, Hawaiʻi Farm Bureau, Hawaiʻi Food Bank, Hawaiʻi Food Basket, Hawaiʻi State Department of Education, Kapiolani Commuity College – Culinary Arts Department, Kauaʻi Independent Food Bank, Kupu Hawaiʻi, Lanakila Pacific, Local ʻIa, Mālama Kauai, Mālama Meals, Department of Labor and Industrial Relations – Office of Community Services, Maui Food Bank, Oʻahu Fresh, YMCA
During the COVID-19 crisis, volunteerism is needed more than ever. In order to keep volunteers and the people they serve safe, many volunteer efforts have pivoted to offer virtual volunteer opportunities. Volunteer Week Hawaiʻi 2020 (April 19th– 25th) provided virtual volunteer opportunities for students and adults to connect with the community while following social distancing and safety guidelines. Volunteer Week Hawaiʻi launched in 2018 as our local take on National Volunteer Week (celebrated annually since 1974). It is an opportunity to encourage people to get engaged in their communities and to recognize volunteers for their year-round contributions. The statewide, cross-sector campaign brings together residents, visitors, nonprofits, businesses, schools, and government agencies in a concerted effort to take grassroots action that serves our communities and advance key areas through the Aloha+ Challenge.

Network Action on COVID-19: Identifying Shovel-Ready Green Growth Initiatives for Recovery

In May 2020, stakeholders from across Hawaiʻi's sectors and islands identified suggestions for recovery projects that would improve Hawaiʻi's resilience. (Source: Hawaiʻi Green Growth in partnership with the Hawai‘i Tourism Authority, Chamber of Commerce, Hawai‘i Alliance of Nonprofit Organizations (HANO), Kua ʻāina Ulu ʻAuamo (KUA), Hawai‘i Alliance for Community-Based Economic Development (HACBED), The Institute of Sustainability and Resilience (ISR) at University of Hawai‘i Mānoa, Hawai‘i Public Health Institute, Anthology Group, Sultan Ventures)

While the survey is still open and accepting responses, analysis has been done on the current responses to create a list of green growth projects.  Follow the link to view the spreadsheet of Ready to Go Green Growth Projects. The survey also asked respondents to share any education or training opportunities that they are aware of. Follow the link to view a spreadsheet of the opportunities. SourceHawaiʻi Green Growth
View Source Data (project list)
View Source Data (training initiatives)

COVID-19 Spotlight: Public Health Preparedness

One of the reasons for implementing social distancing measures is to slow down the outbreak to prevent the health care system from being overwhelmed. When appropriate public health preparedness measures are in place before an outbreak, and when the health care system is robust to begin with, communities are more resilient to public health crises such as the COVID-19 outbreak.
Health Insurance Coverage
Hawaiʻi has one of the highest health care coverage rates in the U.S., as state law requires employers to provide health care for all employees working at least 20 hours a week. However, access to health care goes beyond coverage alone, as the rate of adults with a regular source of health care is lower than the coverage rate. Lack of access to regular care is especially felt by those who are unemployed. Note: since the methodology of determining usual access to healthcare changed in 2011, only data with the new methodology is shown. SourceHawaiʻi Health Matters with primary data from the Hawaiʻi Health Data Warehouse and the Hawaiʻi Department of Health 
Public Health Preparedness Score
In 2017, the Trust for America’s Health gave Hawaiʻi a public health preparedness score of 7/10. Only 5 states scored above a 7 (Massachusetts, Rhode Island, Delaware, North Carolina, and Virginia). Source: Trust for America’s Health (2017)
Usual Source of Health Care by Race/Ethnicity
A usual source of health care tracks people who have one or more persons they think of as their personal health care provider. This data is disaggregated to show any disparities in access to health care by race/ethnicity, as an average doesn't fairly represent the population.  Click and drag on the graph to view the full dataset. Note: since the methodology of determining usual access to healthcare changed in 2011, only data with the new methodology is shown. SourceHawaiʻi Health Matters

COVID-19 Resources

Global Economic Disruptions: The 2008 Financial Crisis

The global coronavirus outbreak is both a public health crisis as well as an economic crisis. 70% of Hawaiʻi’s workforce are employed in the tourism and food services industry. These industries have been particularly impacted by social distancing measures.


Social Vulnerability Index (SVI)

There are various factors that can hinder a community’s ability to avert loss of life and financial damages in the event of a disaster, such as a hurricane, tsunami, chemical spill or biological outbreak. Social conditions that increase a community’s vulnerability include high poverty, lack of vehicle access, and crowded housing, which all make evacuation more difficult in emergencies (Flanagan et al, 2011). The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has developed the Social Vulnerability Index (SVI) as a tool for community leaders and emergency management officials to assess vulnerability of every US Census tract based on 15 social factors. These factors generate a ranking for each Census tract as a percentile with comparison among all tracts nationally. The values are expressed on a range from 0 to 1 (with 0 representing the least vulnerable and 1 representing the most vulnerable). The comparative ranking among all US census blocks is expressed on the dashboard as an average index for each county as well as the statewide average. However, since the index is a comparative ranking, vulnerability is measured relative to all Census blocks and therefore increased vulnerability may not be observable if all US Census blocks reflect similar vulnerability increases.
Figure 1: This graph illustrates the overall social vulnerability for each of the four counties from 2000, 2010 and 2014. The values are expressed on a range from 0 to 1 (with 0 representing the least vulnerable and 1 representing the most vulnerable). (Source: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention)
Social Vulnerability Index Map (2018)
Figure 2: This interactive map illustrates the range of social vulnerability by county and Census tract for the state of Hawai‘i. Areas in blue note the most socially vulnerable population, and therefore least resilient to hazards. Zoom in to each island and click on the map to see the ratings for each Census tract. (Source: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention SVI Map 2018) for county-specific analyses see  Prepared County Maps)

Sea Level Rise

As an island state, sea level rise is a critical variable in the long term resiliency of Hawai‘i’s communities. The vast majority of communities in Hawai‘i are within close proximity to the ocean, underscoring the vulnerability of residents, infrastructure, and other vital resources. Preliminary projections for Honolulu estimate sea level to increase half a foot by 2030 and nearly three feet by the end of the century (Kopp, 2014). In addition to ocean level threats, the impact of groundwater inundation is projected to cause flooding concerns much further inland. Computer modelling for a three-foot sea level rise scenario show flooding hazards for urban Honolulu affecting real estate valued at five billion dollars and additional financial impacts to roadways, infrastructure, and tourism-related industries (Habel et al, 2017). Subsequent flooding from groundwater inundation will result regardless of traditional seawall construction, and therefore adaptation to sea level rise will require innovative solutions and collaborative efforts through engineering and planning (Habel et al, 2017). The Hawaiʻi Climate Change Mitigation and Adaptation Commission released a sea level rise report in early 2018 including potential environmental, economic, and social impacts of disasters, detailed below.
Figure 3:  The figures above illustrate the potential environmental, economic, and social impacts of sea level rise and chronic flooding. Source: Hawaiʻi Sea Level Rise Vulnerabilityand Adaptation Report, December 2017. "Summary of potential impacts in the SLR-XA with 3.2 feet of sea level rise (chronic flooding) in Hawaiʻi"

Financial Impact of Disasters

The growing costs of natural disasters are currently being tracked at the national level; the data reflects the increasing number of uninsured losses relative to insured losses, which indicates a market failure and a financial burden on public sector budgets. While no current data exists to track the uninsured losses for the State of Hawai‘i, the trends highlighted below show the impact nationally.

Emergency Declarations

Emergency Financial Assistance

Figure 4: The bar graph illustrates the number of Major Disaster Declarations and Fire Management Assistance Declarations declared to FEMA statewide over the period of 2005-2017. Source: Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA)
Figure 5: This graph illustrates the financial assistance provided by FEMA to the state of Hawai‘i in millions of dollars for all natural disaster emergency declarations. Source: Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA)

Estimated Financial Impact of Storms

Figure 5: This table below shows the estimated financial impact for each of the four counties expressed in billions of dollars. The estimates provide the financial burden in the event of a hurricane at the strength level of the two most recent hurricanes. (Source: State of Hawai‘i Multi-Hazard Mitigation Plan 2018)

Uninsured Loss

Figure 6: This graph tracks the trends of US economic losses in billions of dollars expressed annually (Source: Swiss Re 2016)

National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP) Community Rating System

Volcanic tropical islands can be especially vulnerable to flooding due their unique topography of steep slopes and climate, causing flashy streams during heavy rain events (Ramirez, 2012). As a result, a flood mitigation strategy is crucial to reducing vulnerability. The National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP) offers the Community Rating System (CRS) as a voluntary program to reduce flood damage and encourage floodplain management activities to exceed NFIP standards. Communities that implement local mitigation and floodplain management and outreach activities, receive discounted flood insurance premium rates. This is designed to reward community action to encourage a comprehensive approach to floodplain management that reduces flood damage (Federal Emergency Management Agency).
The rating system is based on a scale of 9 to 1, with 1 representing the optimal community rating. The system determines the reduction in flood insurance premium for residents within a community. As a community pursues additional mitigation activities, points are accrued based on four categories: Public Information, Mapping and Regulations, Flood Damage Reduction, Warning and Response. Currently only Hawaiʻi County and Maui County participate in the program (Federal Emergency Management Agency).

Figure 7: Demonstrates current Community Rating System scores for the two participating counties. The CRS is based on a scale of 1-9 with 1 indicating the highest rating. Note: Hawai‘i County and Maui County are currently the only participating counties. Source: FEMA National Flood Insurance Program
Emergency Shelters and Services
Available shelter spaces across the state are limited and, according to the Multi-Hazard Mitigation Plan, lacks thousands of suitable shelters and provisions in the event of high winds or hurricane. For example, the City and County of Honolulu currently has adequate hurricane shelter provisions for about 30% of the population (HIEMA).

Kīlauea Eruption

The year 2018 marked the beginning of Hawaiʻi Island's volcanic eruption. The USGS map (Figure 8) displayed to the right provides a guide to the active and non-active fissures and accessible roads and residencies in lieu of the recent natural disaster. SourceUnited States Geological Survey (USGS), 2018

Learn More and Make a Difference

What You Can Do
Learn More
  • To identify tsunami evacuation zones on Oahu look at this map
  • For more information on the Social Vulnerability Index, follow the link
  • Sea Level Rise Vulnerability and Adaptation Report provides a statewide assessment of Hawaiʻi’s vulnerability to sea level rise and recommendations to reduce exposure and sensitivity to sea level rise and increase capacity to adapt
  • To explore more information on the Hawai‘i’s statewide multi-hazard mitigation plan, follow the link to read the full report
  • National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP) Community Rating System includes more information on strategies for participating counties to improve their rating and subsequent discounts on insurance premiums
  • To learn more on the location of different shelter types, use these mapping tools to explore your local community

SDG 1 - No Poverty
End poverty in all its forms everywhere
SDG 3 - Good Health and Well-being
Ensure healthy lives and promote well-being for all at all ages
SDG 9 - Industry, Innovation and Infrastructure
Build resilient infrastructure, promote sustainable industrialization and foster innovation
SDG 10 - Reduced Inequalities
Reduce inequality within and among countries
SDG 11 - Sustainable Cities and Communities
Make cities inclusive, safe, resilient and sustainable
SDG 13 - Climate Action
Take urgent action to combat climate change and its impacts
SDG 16 - Peace, Justice and Strong Institutions
Promote just, peaceful and inclusive societies
SDG 17 - Partnerships for the Goals
Revitalize the global partnership for sustainable development