Coast Guard, NOAA, DLNR Prepare for Return of Humpback Whales to Hawaiian Waters

Crews from the Coast Guard, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, and the State of Hawaii’s Division of Conservation and Resources Enforcement, from the Department of Land and Natural Resources are partnering together to protect humpback whales as they make their annual migration to Hawaiian waters.

Coast Guard Petty Officer 2nd Class Christopher Hyde watches as a whale swims underneath a Coast Guard Station Honolulu 47-foot Motor Life Boat in waters west of Molokai, Hawaii, U.S. Coast Guard photo by Petty Officer 3rd Class Angela

Humpback whale season is generally from November to May with the peak season occurring during the months of January and March. According to the Hawaiian Islands Humpback Whale Marine National Sanctuary, whales come to the Hawaiian Islands to mate, calve, and nurse their young. They return to Alaska in the summer months because Hawaii’s waters are relatively nutrient-free and too warm to support enough of the humpback’s food to sustain them year-round. The whales must migrate back to colder water to feed and rebuild their blubber supply.

“It is certainly beneficial to have the Coast Guard, NOAA and DOCARE working together with the same goal of protecting these marine mammals,” said Eric Roberts, the 14th Coast Guard District’s marine mammal response manager. “By combining our resources, we are better prepared to protect this endangered species in a way that helps keep both the animals and Hawaii’s mariners safe.”

The 14th Coast Guard District is home to four marine national monuments and two national marine sanctuaries, more than any other region in the United States. Since the 2009-2010 humpback whale season, the Coast Guard has been conducting Operation Kohola Guardian, a program created to formalize the Coast Guard’s protection of the endangered humpback whale.

Operation Kohola Guardian involves coordinated joint Coast Guard, NOAA and DOCARE patrols of the sanctuary during the peak months of January through March. The Coast Guard aims to protect both the safety of mariners as well as the endangered humpback whales while in the sanctuary by direct communication with boaters.

“We are so fortunate to have the humpbacks visit Hawaii each year,” said Elia Herman, sanctuary co-manager with the DLNR.  “But with that comes added responsibility – and we all need to continue to work together to ensure the laws are followed and both whales and people are protected.”

There are several whale collisions near the Hawaiian Islands every year. Boaters can take proactive measures to ensure their safety as well as the safety of the whales. Keeping a boat’s speed down when whales are known to be in the area is one step mariners can take. Mariners should also maintain a sharp lookout at all times.

Coast Guard Petty Officer 2nd Class Ryan Lundy and Seaman Darren Park, both from Coast Guard Station Honolulu, watch as National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration members remove line caught on a yearling whale in waters west of Molokai, Hawaii.

Weighing an average of 45 tons, a humpback whale collision with a mariner can be catastrophic. While on routine patrol, Coast Guard boats and air crews scan the area for signs of whales. If whales are sighted crews alert nearby mariners to ensure they remain away. It is illegal to approach within 100 yards of a whale. Aircraft are also prohibited from flying within 1,000 feet of a whale.

“Protecting humpback whales in Hawaii requires the work of multiple agencies. The Coast Guard, NOAA and the state of Hawaii’s DOCARE all play important roles, that when combined, result in better protection for whales in the Hawaiian Islands Humpback Whale National Marine Sanctuary,” said Sanctuary Superintendent Malia Chow, from NOAA. “It is truly a multi-agency effort.”

Coast Guard crews conduct sanctuary patrols to ensure boaters and marine life stay safe.

“One of our core missions is the protection of marine mammals, so it’s crucial that we work closely with our federal, state and local partners to ensure that the maritime community is respecting our maritime laws,” said Roberts. “By partnering with NOAA and DOCARE, we’ve been able to increase our presence throughout the Sanctuary.”

The Coast Guard’s efforts to protect humpback whales are not limited to surface patrols. Coast Guardsmen act as first responders to entanglements and other marine mammal distress calls, and they are often the reporting source to NOAA and DOCARE. While on routine patrols, Coast Guard rescue helicopter crews from Air Station Barbers Point sometimes spot distressed marine mammals.

“Coast Guardsmen attend regular training focusing on large whale entanglement response and we are permitted to act on behalf of NOAA in certain circumstances,” Roberts said. “This provides our members with the technical knowledge to assess the extent of the entanglements and attached satellite tracking gear as needed. Additionally, our boat operators receive extensive training on safe approach techniques to limit the risks to both the animals and our response personnel.”

The Coast Guard assists with an average of 12 to 15 whale entanglements each season and transports numerous marine mammals that are in danger to safer locations.

Mariners and citizens are asked to report injured or entangled marine mammals to the Coast Guard on VHF marine band channel 16, or at 808-842-2600, or by contacting the NOAA fisheries hotline at 800-853-1964.

Individuals are invited to continue the conversation at www.Facebook.com/USCGHawaiiPacific.

For more information visit the Hawaiian Islands Humpback Whale National Marine Sanctuary Web site at http://hawaiihumpbackwhale.noaa.gov/.

And Just Now I Get the Message? The County Should Not Rely on Email to Spread Disaster Information

NEVER RELY ON EMAIL FOR TIMELY INFORMATION (click to enlarge)

Hawaii County Elections: November 1st Update and Information

VOTER REGISTRATION

104,323 Hawaii County residents are registered to vote in the 2012 General Election. This is the official voter registration count for the 2012 General Election and is not subject to change for this election.

ABSENTEE MAIL BALLOTS

As of November 1st, Hawaii County has received 18,221 voted absentee mail ballots.  Voters are reminded that the deadline to submit an absentee mail ballot for the General Election is 6:00 p.m. on November 6, 2012.  Voters are further reminded that absentee mail ballots may be submitted for the General Election by: (1) mailing their ballot to the Hawaii County Elections Division, (2) hand delivering their ballot to the Hawaii County Elections Division office in Hilo, (3) hand delivering their ballot to any absentee/early walk-in voting location in Hilo, Waimea and in Kona, (4) hand delivering their ballot to any precinct on election day, November 6, 2012, no later than 6:00 p.m.

ABSENTEE/EARLY WALK-IN VOTING

On October 23rd, Hawaii County opened absentee/early walk-in voting precincts in Hilo, Waimea and in Kona.  Absentee/early walk-in voting is open to all registered voters at any early walk-in voting precinct on the island, regardless of district or residency assignment.  Absentee/early walk-in voting will continue until November 3, 2012.

As of November 1st, 7,162 Hawaii County voters have voted absentee/early walk-in voting in Hawaii County.

For more information please contact Lehua Iopa, Acting Elections Program Administrator, Hawaii County Elections Division (808) 961-8277 or by electronic mail to eiopa@co.hawaii.hi.us.

Sales Begin at Kamakoa Nui Workforce Housing in Waikoloa: Timeline of Events

The County of Hawai‘i today announced that it will soon begin sales of homes in the Kamakoa Nui workforce housing community in Waikoloa.

The County of Hawai‘i today announced that it will soon begin sales of homes in the Kamakoa Nui workforce housing community in Waikoloa.

In a related announcement, the County will extend Paniolo Avenue from Waikoloa Elementary School to the community and the new Kamakoa Nui Park. The extension will provide a primary route to the park, which will provide ballfields and a skate park to all residents of Waikoloa.

The Office of Housing and Community Development (OHCD) will begin offering new fee-simple homes to qualified buyers at price points between $235,000 and $350,000. There are no additional costs to ownership such as homeowner’s association dues or community facilities charges. OHCD plans to ask for bids on the first three phases of the project — about 20 homes — by December 2012.

“We’ve had challenges along the way, including a lawsuit that we had to deal with,” said Steve Arnett, Administrator of the County’s Office of Housing and Community Development. “We are so excited about the possibility of now making this an addition to the Waikoloa Village community.”

Ongoing litigation between the County of Hawaii and Unidev LLC, the original developer of Kamakoa Nui, had clouded the title to the property. Although the lawsuits are ongoing, the County of Hawai‘i was informed Monday that title to the property was cleared. This development gave the County the green light to offer homes in Kamakoa Nui for sale.

Those who participated in a 2007 lottery to determine placing on the offering list are being contacted and will have first choice at purchasing a home in Kamakoa Nui. Depending on demand, remaining homes will be offered through another lottery. Those who are able to purchase should be able to move into their homes by next summer.

“It’s exciting! I’m a teacher here at Waikoloa, and it’s exciting to have the possibility of owning a home here in the Village where I teach,” said Larry Denis, a Waikoloa Elementary School teacher who was at today’s announcement and walk-through. “I’m excited to look at the options.”

Homes at Kamakoa Nui are being offered to resident families with household incomes of no more than 140 percent of the area median income. For a family of four, that comes out to $97,440. Additionally, Habitat For Humanity will purchase four lots at Kamakoa Nui. This will allow families with even lower average monthly incomes to be able to afford homes.

“Families will have an opportunity to build equity for their families, for their future,” said Mayor Billy Kenoi. “It becomes a wiser investment for all of us, and more importantly, it’s an investment in our children and their future.”

Looking toward the future Paniolo Ave. extension

Mayor Kenoi also on Thursday announced that the $3 million first phase of the extension of Paniolo Avenue is expected to be out to bid in December and could be completed as early as the first quarter of 2014. The extension of Paniolo Avenue, from the traffic light near Waikoloa Elementary School to Kamakoa Nui, will create the primary entrance to the community and the park, lessening the impact to those living on Iwikuamo‘o Drive.

“We’re building the road because the community needs it. Although the obligation to construct the road rests with others, we cannot wait for them to resolve who will build it,” said Mayor Kenoi. “So we will build it.”

Timeline of Kamakoa Nui:

  • 2005 – Kamakoa Vistas Workforce Housing project awarded to Unidev LLC of Bethesda, Md. Unidev contracts with the County of Hawai’i’s Office of Housing & Community Development to build 1,200 affordable units, which will be offered leasehold between $350,000 and $475,000, not including monthly $100 association dues and $450 in Community Facilities District fees.
  • 2006 – Unidev secures $6 million in temporary financing from the National Electricians Benefit Fund (NEBF). Unidev partners with Citicorp to finance the entire project.
  • 2007 – County pays off NEBF loan.
  • 2007 – County breaks ground for the project on Dec. 29.
  • 2008 – Citicorp drops out of project during the financial crisis.
  • 2008 – County Council approves $40 million bond float for Kamakoa.
  • 2008 – Waikoloa Workforce Housing LLC established by the county.
  • 2008 – Isemoto Contracting Co. is the low bidder on backbone infrastructure at just under $28 million.
  • 2008 – Unidev does not respond to county, WWH or vendors.
  • 2009 – Under a new administration, County stops payments and sues Unidev citing false and fraudulent claims. County closes WWH.
  • 2010 – OHCD revises business model under the newly branded name of Kamakoa Nui. Price points are now $235,000 to $350,000 for new, fee-simple new homes with no additional fees.
  • 2011 – Site work completed by Isemoto.
  • 2011 – Coastal Construction Co. submits low bid for model homes, which are completed on time and on budget.
  • 2012 – The model homes are furnished by Trans Pacific Interior Design. Aldridge and Associates hired as real estate broker.
  • 2012 – County clears title and announces that sales of homes at Kamakoa Nui are about to begin. County also announces it will extend Paniolo Avenue from the Waikoloa Elementary School to the new Kamakoa Nui Park.

Backwards Was Testing Defense Civil Today’s – Statewide Failed Sirens 40 (Correction More Then That)

Today’s Civil Defense Testing Was Backwards!

Most folks should know by now that the Civil Defense Sirens here on the Big Island get tested on the first day of each month right around 11:45.  Today, those of us that have subscribed to the NIXLE Emergency Alert System got a warning a few minutes ahead of time that WE HAVE NEVER GOTTEN BEFORE:

Thursday November 1st, 2012 :: 05:55 a.m. HST
The Hawaiʻi Police Department reminds the public that the Civil Defense monthly test of the statewide outdoor siren warning system is scheduled for Thursday (November 1) at 11:45 a.m.

Although the siren system is managed by State Civil Defense, the counties provide assistance with maintenance and operation of the warning sirens. On Thursday, Hawaiʻi County police and fire personnel will monitor all 71 sites around the island to provide feedback about whether any sirens need to be repaired or adjusted.

State Civil Defense technicians did conduct maintenance last week on 11 sirens on the Big Island. At that time, all but the one at Laupāhoehoe Point were deemed functional.

During the recent tsunami warning, 40 sirens failed statewide:

Oahu—20
Maui—5
Molokaʻi—1
Kauai—4
Hawaiʻi—10

Where the sirens failed on the Big Island, patrol officers manually warned residents to evacuate by loud speaker.

The siren test, which is coordinated with the test of the live audio broadcast segment of the Emergency Alert System, involves a steady 45-second tone on all sirens. The purpose of the steady tone is to alert the public to any emergency that may pose a threat to life and property. Besides natural and technological hazards, the Emergency Alert System could be used for terrorist incidents or acts of war.

When the siren signal is sounded in your area during an actual emergency, tune to any local radio or television station for emergency information and instructions broadcast by Civil Defense agencies.

During the monthly test, participating stations will carry a detailed explanation of what the sirens mean, as well as other related information.

Tests of State Civil Defense sirens and the Emergency Alert System are conducted simultaneously, typically on the first working day of the month, in cooperation with Hawaiʻi’s broadcasting industry. During the test, State Civil Defense officials remind the public that Civil Defense disaster preparedness information is located in the front section of telephone directories in all counties.

Ok well according to the Nixle web report that was sent out at 5:55 am this morning… Unfortunately if you don’t have a cell phone or don’t do text messages and rely upon E-mail for the notifications… you might not have gotten the warning until much later (See the time I received it via Email)

See the time I got this identical Emergency report circled in red (Click for larger view)

So as you can see the email report that was generated from a Nixle report didn’t get to me until after 4 hours after the initial report.

I also got the following NIXLE report on my phone from the Department of Emergency Management at 8:30 AM however despite having it selected on emails to get an email notice as well… I never got the Email of this notice at all:

This is a reminder that at 11:45 a.m. today the monthly test of the Outdoor Siren Warning System and Live Audio Broadcast in conjunction with Hawaii State Civil Defense will be conducted.

For the purpose of this test you will hear a 45-second steady tone on all sirens. When you hear the steady tone in circumstances other than a test, turn to any radio or television station for essential emergency information and instructions.

During an actual emergency these broadcasts will be heard at frequent intervals and may become continuous if need be.

In addition, residents in areas surrounding Campbell Industrial Park, Honokai Hale, Makakilo, Kapolei Regional Park, Kapolei Golf Course, and the Coast Guard Station at Kalaeloa may also hear a “whooping” tone following the Siren Test. This “whooping” tone is a test of the Hazardous Materials (HAZMAT) Incident outdoor siren warning group that will be activated in the event of a HAZMAT incident.

NEW! Adopt-A-Siren Smartphone APP: Adopt-A-Siren: http://sirens.honolulu.gov/ Allows users to adopt a tsunami siren in their neighborhood. They will take responsibility for the siren by checking to ensure its functuality and report on the status of the siren to the City. The application also allows users to name their siren and receive an email notification alerting them when the siren will be tested.

Siren Malfunction: If the siren in your community does not sound or does not operate properly please call the Department of Emergency Management at 723-8960 to report it. You can also email the department at dem@honolulu.gov. With more than 170 outdoor warning sirens on Oahu we appreciate the public’s assistance in identifying problem units.

Siren Damage or Vandalism: You can help us to safeguard our Outdoor Siren Warning System. Please report any acts of vandalism, damages, or missing sirens or components to the Department of Emergency Management at 723-8960. You can also email the department at dem@honolulu.gov and include any images you may have of the siren in question. Any suspicious activity should be reported immediately to the Honolulu Police Department by calling 911.

Residents now have the option of reporting malfunctioning or vandalized sirens on-line. Visit the City’s Siren Trouble Report page at http://www3.honolulu.gov/DEMSiren/ to file your report as well as upload pictures.

Remember, important emergency information including evacuation maps can be found in the Hawaiian Telecom and Paradise Pages telephone directories or on our website at www.oahuDEM.org.

In addition all Oahu residents are encouraged to sign-up to receive emergency email and cell phone text messages from the Board of Water Supply, Department of Emergency Management and the Honolulu Police Department by signing up with NIXLE at www.nixle.com/dem Standard text messaging rates may apply depending on your wireless carrier and plan.

Then as I’m driving around doing my job today… all of a sudden I hear a siren around 3:00 or so and I was like… what the heck… I quickly looked to see if I missed any Nixle reports or Emails on my phone and I didn’t see any.

I quit what I was doing for the day and headed home to see if I could figure out why this siren was going off.  Just as I pulled into my driveway… I receive the following Nixle report at 3:20:

The Civil Defense sirens that just sounded were not because of an emergency. The sirens are still being tested.

Now you would think that they would send out a Nixle Report ahead of testing so that folks wouldn’t be so on edge!
Now I just received the following Nixle report and you can count how many failed during the actual 11:45 test today… Unfortunately, as I said before… this test does not account for the Sirens that went off later then other sirens when it was an actual time of emergency.

In response to reports that some Civil Defense emergency sirens failed during the recent tsunami warning, Hawaiʻi County police and fire personnel were tasked with monitoring all 71 sites around the island to provide feedback about which sirens need to be repaired or adjusted.

Although the siren system is managed by State Civil Defense, the counties provide assistance with maintenance and operation of the warning sirens.

The test Thursday determined that 13 sirens are not working properly.

The sirens that did not sound at all or did not sound properly during the 11:45 a.m. monthly test were located at Kawailani Street in Hilo, Pāpaikou, Paauilo, Oʻokala, Hakalau, Laupāhoehoe Point Park, Honokaʻa, Waiaka, Puakō, Kamehameha Park, Kahaluʻu Beach Park, Nāpoʻopoʻo and Makuʻu Avenue in Hawaiian Paradise Park.

A follow-up test was conducted at 3:10 p.m.

Mayor Kenoi authorized immediate repairs in the interest of the public’s safety.

Personnel from State Civil Defense will be on the island of Hawaiʻi on Friday (November 2) to work with personnel from the Police Department’s Radio Shop and begin the repairs.

3.0 Magnitude Earthquake Shakes Volcano Area of Big Island This Morning

Magnitude 3.0
Date-Time
Location 19.378°N, 155.235°W
Depth 3.1 km (1.9 miles)
Region ISLAND OF HAWAII, HAWAII
Distances
  • 8 km (5 miles) S (180°) from Volcano, HI
  • 15 km (9 miles) SW (226°) from Fern Forest, HI
  • 19 km (12 miles) SW (226°) from Eden Roc, HI
  • 39 km (24 miles) WSW (241°) from Hawaiian Beaches, HI
  • 40 km (25 miles) SSW (203°) from Hilo, HI
  • 345 km (214 miles) SE (128°) from Honolulu, HI
Location Uncertainty horizontal +/- 0.2 km (0.1 miles); depth +/- 0.2 km (0.1 miles)
Parameters Nph= 44, Dmin=1 km, Rmss=0.06 sec, Gp= 76°,
M-type=local magnitude (ML), Version=3
Source
Event ID hv60425206