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Sea Grant Postcard from the Field: Preparedness in Paradise

September is National Preparedness Month.

When it comes to preparing for natural disasters, Dennis Hwang wrote the book – literally.

Hwang is a Coastal Hazard Mitigation Specialist with Hawai‘i Sea Grant and co-author of the Homeowner’s Handbook to Prepare for Natural Hazards. Since its first publication in 2007, the handbook has gone through three editions, with a fourth edition on the way thanks to appropriated funds from the Hawai’i Legislature. Over 75,000 copies have been distributed, and the electronic version is also freely accessible online.

Written specifically for homeowners, the handbook is based on three main principles: (1) Providing information in a way that is easy to understand, with pictures and step-by-step instructions; (2) Educating and informing the homeowner of hazard risks in their area; and (3) Offering as many options or solutions to the homeowner as possible that are relevant, reasonable, and cost effective.

Some of the new additions to the most recent version of the Hawai’i Homeowner’s Handbook include a Shelter-in-Place Table which provides guidance for deciding to shelter in your home, information on new ways to retrofit homes that can reduce damage from earthquakes and hurricane winds, and expanded sections on threats from other hazards like volcanoes, wildfire, drought, and climate change.

The original Homeowner’s Handbook has also been adapted and used by other Sea Grant programs around the country. In many instances, Hwang traveled to these programs to help them get started and connect with their local partners. Regional versions that have been adapted from the original Handbook include:

Alabama

Delaware (PDF)

Florida

Louisiana

Mariana Islands (including Guam) (PDF)

Massachusetts

Mississippi 

Republic of the Marshall Islands (available in English and Marshallese)

Texas (available in English and Spanish)

Virginia

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