The other day I questioned why Civil Defense did not do a better job of getting notice out to Big Island residents regarding Wednesdays flooding in West Hawaii. I just received the following response:
My questions in BLACK:
County Response in RED:
1. I would like to know how many Hawaii County Residents have signed up for the $40,000 Phone Alert System that the County is paying for: http://www.hawaii-county.com/cd/message.htm
Approximately, 35,000 people and businesses are registered on the master data base. Most of these numbers are currently in the white pages and not on a Federal Do Not Call List. An additional 2,600 people have registered for the service since it debuted in October 2008.
I understand this first year is free and subsequent years will be $40,000! This seems like a large chunk of change for something that has not been proven effective.
Golf & Country Club Subdivision (twice), shark sighting and road closure notification for the Big Island Visitors Security Association (about 10 notifications), and notifying governmental, non-governmental, volunteer, and community associations about our tsunami drill (600+ contacts). has secured funding (through grants) to July of 2011. Basically, it will be free to Hawai’i County taxpayers until that time. Three years should be ample time to determine whether or not the system is worth the cost. It should be mentioned that this system is not only for Civil Defense’s exclusive use: Public Works, Water, Fire, Police, Planning, Aging, Prosecutors, and Mayor’s office are among participating agencies currently using the system. Public Works has used it for bridge repair notification in Paauilo, for water restriction notification in Kaumana, for brush fire personnel recalls (about four times), and for high sulfur dioxide notifications in Pahala (once) and Volcano
2. I would like to know where the Civil Defense warnings were that West Hawaii was flooding yesterday.
Civil Defense telephoned the radio stations as soon as they were made aware of roads being closed and kept them up to date as new information came in. CD decided not to broadcast a standard Civil Defense radio message because it quickly became apparent that rain conditions and roadblock locations were changing constantly. The usual method of crafting, distributing, and broadcasting a radio message takes time and is not well suited for a quickly changing situation. We decided that notifying the radio stations on the fly and asking the DJs to get the word out was quicker.
3. The only way I heard about the Flooding was through a http://twitter.com/KWXX/statuses/1201758225
Message put out by KWXX: You probably got the Twitter message only because Civil Defense sent the info to the radio stations.
4. Hawaii County Has A Civil Defense Twitter site… why is it not being used?
Civil Defense is unaware of that account. As I discovered now that I just signed on for my own account, apparently anyone could have set up the CD account. However City Watch is more efficient in reaching large numbers of people, many of whom do not have Twitter accounts. Almost everybody has a telephone. At some point it may behoove us to use Twitter as part of emergency notification procedures but at the current time we do not because of the alternatives available. Thanks for your interest.