In pre-war preparations, a May 23, 1941 article in the Honolulu Advertiser titled “Army Maps Areas to Be Evacuated in Event of Emergency” informed civilians that 86,000 persons living in Honolulu resided in danger zones, and that half would have to evacuate in the event of a war.
“The Hawaiian Department has worked out a comprehensive plan for moving and caring for those who would have to leave their home. Preparation of the plan was directed by Col. Albert B. K. Lyman department engineer.”
“Much of the responsibility for the actual mechanics of the process would devolve upon the civilian government unless it was necessary to invoke martial law …”
“… but it is hoped that the people of Honolulu would be sufficiently aware of the necessities of the evacuation process to act voluntarily and cooperate with the government and the army, both in caring for themselves and in helping to care for others.”
“Areas to be evacuated are those places surrounding and in the vicinity of legitimate targets for an enemy. They extend practically without a break along the waterfront from Middle street to Waialae golf course.”
“The mauka boundary is School street to Kapiolani street, then Kapiolani boulevard and the Ala Wai to the fair grounds, along Kapahulu to Waialae avenue, and along the ewa boundary of the golf course to Kahala avenue.”
“This portion of the city that would be evacuated contains several artillery posts, the docks, the oil tanks, railroad yards, Hawaiian Electric Company, Honolulu Gas Company, Mutual Telephone Company, the newspaper plants and the major traffic arteries – all legitimate targets.”
“Because any air raid on Honolulu that might ever occur would most probably be at night, consequently not of the precision variety, bombs might land at some distance from the actual targets. That is the reason so large an area would have to be evacuated.”
“There are two classes of evacuees: those who will voluntarily or with slight persuasion leave, and those who must be forced to leave … Persons who cannot be used in any manner in the defense and who are unwilling to leave Honolulu but who can be used directly and indirectly in the defense constitute the seconds class.’”
“In discussing the evacuation program General Short regretted, that Honolulu does not possess one of the most favorable facilities that could be utilized as a camp. That is a large recreation center away from the ocean. The beaches, he said, do not offer enough foliage for protection from observation.” (Honolulu Advertiser, May 23, 1941)
During the Fall of 1941 diplomatic relations between the United States and Japan, which had been steadily deteriorating, took a sudden turn for the worse. December 7, 1941 Japan attacked the US at Pearl Harbor.
Shelters for evacuees were built in the valleys of Palolo, Kalihi and Mānoa; however, they were “held in readiness for evacuees in connection with [another] attack.”
Neither Kalihi Valley Camp nor Palolo Valley Camp ever accommodated Islanders displaced after the initial attack on December 7th. A memorandum written in February 1942 confirmed that both Palolo and Kalihi Camps remained unoccupied.
With the coming of World War II Hawaii was confronted with a serious housing shortage, as Honolulu saw an influx of over 100,000 civilian defense workers, while a lack of building materials and laborers brought residential construction to a virtual halt.
Four evacuation camps, which the Office of Civilian Defense had erected in Palolo and Kalihi valleys in case of another Japanese attack, were turned over to the HHA and converted into wartime public housing for several hundred families.
The housing situation became more acute in 1943, as workers continued to come to the islands, and in 1944 the military further compounded the problem by permitting families to join war workers.
The HHA developed public housing areas in Palolo, Kapalama, and Lanikila during 1944 and 1945, and the Federal Public Housing Authority opened Kalihi War Homes with its 248 units in February 1945.
Members of a Congressional subcommittee, which came to investigate Honolulu’s housing situation (in Pālolo and elsewhere) in March 1945, learned of “hot bed apartments” where as many as eighteen men occupied one room in three shifts.
The subcommittee found that adequate housing had not been provided for approximately 60,000 of the 107,679 civilian newcomers who came to Hawaii during the war.
With the conclusion of World War II, the Pālolo School Camp was closed as they were deemed unsatisfactory for occupancy. The Pālolo Evacuation Camp adjacent to the 362-unit emergency housing project in Pālolo remained in operation.
The Federal Public Housing Authority started to build another 1,000 dwelling units in Manoa, but these were not completed until 1946, after the war was over.
With the conclusion of World War II, three of the evacuation camps, Kalihi Evacuation Camp, Kalihi School Camp, and Palolo School Camp, were closed as they were deemed unsatisfactory for occupancy.
The Palolo Evacuation Camp adjacent to the 362 unit emergency housing project in Palolo remained in operation. (HHF)