Many of the threats to the future of our businesses in Hawaii are controllable. Building strong relationships with clients and customers help a business withstand new competitors entering the market, and having good insurance policies can protect against damage to premises caused by fire, wind or water.
Here are natural disasters that have all occurred in West Hawaii:
- Earthquakes. On October 15, 2006, a 6.7 magnitude earthquake occurred just off the Kohala Coast. The damage to hotels, residence and many of the older buildings in the Kona-Kohala area was significant, with several collapsed sections of buildings and structural damage to many buildings in the area. There is no question that Hawaii Island is in a very seismically active area, with several locations susceptible to large earthquakes.
- Tsunamis. The tsunami caused by Japan’s Tohoku earthquake in 2011 affected the Kona coast more than many people realize. Many of the stores at the North end of Alii Drive flooded, as well as the whole first floor of the King Kamehameha Kona Beach Hotel. The Kona Village, a very exclusive and private resort on the Kona coast—one of Steve Job’s favorite vacation spots—was flooded and has yet to reopen. The Hilo side has had some huge, destructive tsunamis within the past 100 years.
- Lava Flows/Volcanic Eruptions. This is often talked about in town, as all of Kailua Village is within 30 minutes of being inundated by a lava flow from Hualalai volcano, which forms the eastern boundary of the village. A significant lava flow to the ocean would sever all land transportation routes in North Kona. The last eruption of the Hualalai was about 200 years ago, and it is classified as an active volcano.
- Hurricanes. Many people assume that the height of Mauna Loa and Mauna Kea will always provide a huge barrier to hurricanes hitting the Kona area. There is a lot of truth to this, as we have never felt the wrath of a hurricane like “Iniki,” which devasted Kauai in 1992, but there are many recorded accounts of hurricanes affecting the Kona area, and our location in the middle of the Pacific guarantees that hurricanes will always be a threat.
As a business owner, there is little you can do protect your livelihood from being affected natural disasters. The worst case scenario—widespread destruction to our community—might make your business unviable. There are, of course, ways to mitigate damage by taking common sense earthquake, wind and water damage precautions. Likewise, reviewing insurance coverage and making disaster planning part of your business planning are a good idea.