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Governor Ige Announces Hawai‘i Among 14 States and Puerto Rico to be on Track to Meet Paris Climate Targets

Gov. David Ige attended Climate Week NYC 2017 this week, where he joined fellow state governors to meet with national and international government and business leaders for discussions on climate change and efforts to reduce carbon emissions.

Hawai‘i is among 14 states and Puerto Rico who are members of the U.S. Climate Alliance, a bi-partisan coalition that was formed in response to President Trump’s decision to withdraw from the Paris Agreement.

On Wednesday, the alliance released its 2017 Annual Report: Alliance States Take the Lead which finds:

  • The alliance states are collectively on track to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 24 to 29 percent — below 2005 levels — over the next eight years (by 2025).
  • Between 2005 and 2015, alliance states reduced greenhouse gas emissions by 15 percent, compared to a 10 percent reduction by the rest of the country.
  • Between 2005 and 2015 – the combined economic output of alliance states grew by 14 percent (the rest of the country grew by 12 percent). On a per capita basis, economic output in alliance states expanded twice as fast as the rest of the country.

“I’m encouraged by our meetings with leaders here at Climate Week. Collaboration is a critical part of how we move forward as a state, a nation, and as global leaders in addressing climate issues affecting our island state and communities around the world. The U.S. Climate Alliance report shows that alliance states are setting clear targets for greenhouse gas reductions and increasing clean energy. This is mobilizing the market to innovate and create new, well-paying green jobs,” said Gov. Ige.

In addition to minimizing emissions that cause climate change, alliance states are also focusing on investing in vulnerability assessments, and planning new innovative technologies, infrastructure and nature-based solutions that can help people adapt to climate change and its impacts.

During Climate Week, Gov. Ige spoke at the opening ceremony and participated in international discussions on a sustainable ocean economy and Hawaiʻi’s 100 percent renewable energy goal. The governor also took part in discussions on how businesses are implementing their own policies on renewable energy and investing in states that are taking steps to adapt to climate change. Gov. Ige also had the opportunity to meet with the governors of Washington and California to discuss enhancing cooperation to address climate change issues.

Hawaii Attorney General Seeks Documents From Opioid Manufacturers and Distributors

Hawaii has joined a bipartisan coalition of states seeking documents and information today from manufacturers and distributors of prescription opioids. This is part of a multistate investigation into the nationwide opioid epidemic. This information will let state attorneys general evaluate whether manufacturers and distributors engaged in unlawful practices in the marketing, sale, and distribution of opioids. 41 state attorneys general are participating in the multistate investigations.

In Hawaii and across the country, opioids – both prescribed and illicit – are a main driver of drug overdose deaths. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, opioids were involved in 33,091 deaths in 2015 including 169 in Hawaii. Opioid overdoses have quadrupled since 1999.

Attorney General Chin said, “Under Governor David Ige’s leadership, my office and the state health department are determined to educate the public here and enforce laws to prevent the spread of opioid abuse in Hawaii.”

The attorneys general served investigative subpoenas for documents and information – also known as Civil Investigative Demands – on Endo, Janssen, Teva/Cephalon, Allergan, and their related entities, as well as a supplemental Civil Investigative Demand on Purdue Pharma. The attorneys general also sent information demand letters to opioid distributors AmerisourceBergen, Cardinal Health, and McKesson requesting documents about their opioid distribution business.

Informational Briefing on Hawaii’s Planned Response to Potential Regional Military Threats

In light of recent concerns regarding North Korean nuclear and missile tests, Senator Clarence Nishihara, Chair of the Senate Committee on Public Safety, Intergovernmental, and Military Affairs will be holding an Informational Briefing on contingencies and planned responses to potential regional military threats to the State on Thursday, September 21, 2017 from 10:30 a.m. – 12:00 p.m. in the State Capitol Auditorium.

Representatives from the Hawai‘i Emergency Management Agency will be providing a presentation on preparation and planning efforts being conducted between the counties and other Federal and State agencies and departments.
To view the hearing notice: http://www.capitol.hawaii.gov/session2017/hearingnotices/HEARING_PSM_09-21-17_INFO_.HTM

USS Cheyenne Holds Change of Command Ceremony

The Los Angeles-class fast-attack submarine USS Cheyenne (SSN 773) held a change of command ceremony at the submarine piers on Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam, Sept. 14.

In 2011 I was invited aboard the USS Cheyenne for a tour.

Cmdr. John T. Gonser relieved Cmdr. John W. Stafford as the commanding officer of Cheyenne and its crew.

Rear Adm. Richard A. Correll, commander, Submarine Group Seven, was the guest speaker for the ceremony and praised Stafford for his achievements and dynamic leadership during his three-year tenure.

“Cmdr. Stafford achieved success because he gets out of the way and lets the officers, chief petty officers and crew do their jobs,” said Correll. “Our very best commanding officers, such as John here, know that their job is to really know their Sailors, and to help every member of their crew be successful by putting them in situations where their strengths are magnified.”

Under Stafford’s leaderships, the crew of the Cheyenne earned the 2015 Squadron Seven Engineering “E” award, 2016 Battle Efficiency “E” award and the 2016 Marjorie Sterrett Battleship Award for superior performance in battle efficiency competition.

Stafford thanked the members of the Cheyenne crew, his family, the support on the waterfront and her namesake city.

“Thank you to the great city of Cheyenne, Wyoming,” said Stafford. “One of my biggest regrets was not making it to Cheyenne Frontier Days, but all the crew members, who did attend, remarked at the love the city has for its submarine. Thank you to the patriots of middle America.”

During the ceremony, Stafford received a Legion of Merit for his exceptionally meritorious service.

As Gonser assumed command, he praised his new crew for the incredible opportunity to continue carrying out his duty to uphold the reputation and demands of the Cheyenne.

“This ship and crew have an impressive history and reputation,” said Gonser. “While we should take pride in being part of this legacy, here is my challenge to you, and my promise to you. Together we will serve our country whenever and wherever our nation’s security demands and live to make those who came before you proud of us.”

Following his relief, Stafford will report to commander, Submarine Group Seven in Yokosuka, Japan.

Homeported in Pearl Harbor, USS Cheyenne is named after the city of Cheyenne, Wyoming, and was the last of the 62 Los Angeles-class submarines to enter service in the U.S. Navy. Commissioned Sept. 13, 1996. Cheyenne measures more than 360-feet long and weigh more than 6,000 tons when submerged.

Clarification – Cash Will Be Accepted at Hawaii Medical Marijuana Dispensaries

This was shared w/ Governor Ige’s followers on Facebook yesterday.

I received the following Press Release from Richard Ha this afternoon clarifying the shared Facebook post that Governor Ige shared from Civil Beat yesterday:

HONOLULU – Hawaiʻi Educational Association for Licensed Therapeutic Healthcare (HEALTH) has long been involved in seeking banking options for Hawaiʻi’s nascent medical cannabis dispensaries. We deeply appreciate the leadership and creativity demonstrated by Governor David Ige and Hawaiʻi Financial institutions Commissioner Iris Ikeda that culminated in yesterday’s announcement that the state had secured a banking solution for its legal cannabis industry.

Partner Colorado Credit Union’s Safe Harbor Private Banking Program is a pioneering program that takes on the regulatory burden required for our industry to be in compliance with federal guidelines so that state-licensed cannabis dispensaries can access banking services. Because these services are unavailable in Hawaiʻi, we are grateful that Colorado has stepped up to help.

The CanPay debit payment application is an alternative to cash payments that will be a welcome option for patients and dispensaries alike. Unlike a credit or debit card, payment will be instantly transferred from the patient’s existing bank account to the dispensary’s account in Colorado to facilitate a cashless purchase.

We recognize that the success of Hawaiʻi’s medical cannabis dispensary program is directly linked to the ability of patients to have safe access to cannabis products to help manage their medical conditions. As employers, we also want to ensure our employees enjoy a safe work environment. These options take us in the right direction at the right time.

Hawaiʻi’s aspiration to have a predominantly “cashless system” for all medical cannabis dispensaries is admirable. However, it is important to clarify that progress toward this goal will take considerable time. We will work with all stakeholders to successfully implement the proposed system. Patients who choose not to participate in a program that requires checking account transfers will still be able to make cash purchases in all Hawaiʻi-Licensed Medical Cannabis Dispensaries. Qualified patient access and compassion are two key tenets to any successful medical program.

Coast Guard, Navy Coordinate Medevac for Man on Cruise Ship Off Maui

A 72-year-old man arrived safely to Maui Wednesday, after being medevaced 170 miles offshore.

A Navy MH-60 Seahawk helicopter aircrew from Helicopter Maritime Strike Squadron 37 at Kaneohe Bay, Hawaii, arrived on scene at 3:55, safely hoisted the man aboard and delivered him to awaiting emergency medical services at Kahului Medical Center in Maui.

“This case illustrates the importance of our partnership with the Navy”, said Lt. Duane Zitta, command duty officer, Coast Guard Joint Response Coordination Center Honolulu. “In the remote Pacific, long-range capable search and rescue assets are vital to getting people to a higher level of medical care as quickly and safely as possible.”

JRCC personnel in Honolulu received notification at 5:18 p.m. Tuesday from the master of the cruise ship Radiance of the Seas, of a passenger aboard suffering from symptoms of abdominal distress.

Watchstanders at JRCC contacted the duty flight surgeon who recommended the man be seen by a general surgeon within 24 hours. Watchstanders at JRCC then coordinated with HSM-37 to conduct the rescue.

House Passes Bipartisan Amendment to Appropriations Bill Cosponsored by Rep. Tulsi Gabbard to Protect Against Property Seizures

The U.S. House of Representatives yesterday passed a bipartisan amendment to the appropriations package cosponsored by Congresswoman Tulsi Gabbard (HI-02) preventing police forces from seizing private property for profit without due process.

Known as adoptive forfeiture, the practice allows the federal government to accept money and property that has been seized by state law enforcement agencies from people, in some cases, before individuals are formally charged or proven guilty of a crime. This practice creates a loophole for states that have adopted stringent, constitutionally sound asset forfeiture laws and allows them to continue practices that are otherwise deemed illegal at the state level.

Congresswoman Tulsi Gabbard said: 

“Attorney General Sessions’ recent announcement to expand civil asset forfeiture allows local law enforcement to bypass state laws and seize property from people with the lowest possible burden of evidence without concern for whether the person is eventually charged or convicted. 

“While some will tell you this is necessary to go after big drug cartels, the reality is the median value of the adoptive forfeiture seizures is around $9,000. Not only is this median value not a sign of major drug trafficking operations, but seizures tend to be focused on poorer neighborhoods. Between 2012 and 2017, the median value of assets seized by Cook County police was just over $1,000; in Philadelphia in 2015, the median value was just $192.   

“This policy does not discriminate between the innocent and the guilty. Rather, this policy places the responsibility on private citizens to prove their innocence rather than put the appropriate burden on law enforcement to prove guilt. All too often, innocent people without legal representation never see their money or property again, and even those who are proven innocent have no promise their property will be returned. 

“The Fifth Amendment of the Constitution exists to protect the citizens of this country from being deprived of life, liberty or property without due process of law. In practice and in principle, adoptive forfeiture is a violation of that Fifth Amendment.”

Background: The practice of adoptive forfeiture was significantly drawn back during the Obama Administration and limited to exceptions related to public safety. However, Attorney General Sessions recently issued a policy directive reauthorizing adoptive forfeiture practices.  This decision marks a return to previous practices that run contrary to safeguarding civil liberties.

Hawai‘i Unveils First Cashless Payment System for Medical Cannabis

Gov. David Ige and state Financial Institutions Commissioner Iris Ikeda announced a “banking solution” that allows Hawai‘i’s medical cannabis dispensaries to access financial services and use a cashless payment system.

The solution makes Hawai‘i the first in the nation to have a cashless dispensary system.

The state has secured the services of Colorado-based Safe Harbor Private Banking that will provide limited and temporary financial services for Hawai‘i’s cannabis dispensaries. CanPay, a debit payment mobile application, will process sales transactions at retail dispensaries. Hawaii’s eight dispensary license holders have agreed to implement cashless operations by October 1, 2017.Financial services are currently unavailable in Hawai‘i because cannabis remains a federally prohibited substance.

“This new cashless system enables the state to focus on patient, public and product safety while we allow commerce to take place. This solution makes sense. It makes dispensary finances transparent and it makes it easier and safer for dispensaries to serve their patients and pay their employees and vendors,” said Gov. Ige.

While determining a banking solution, the Department of Commerce and Consumer Affairs’ Division of Financial Institutions focused on safety—for patients, employees, dispensaries, as well as the wider community. The department sought a cashless solution to address concerns about increased crimes committed against cash-based operations.

“This solution for the dispensaries to conduct banking services in an entirely cashless method would directly address many concerns we have and problems encountered by the dispensaries,” said Iris Ikeda, Hawai‘i Financial Institutions Commissioner. “This will establish a safe environment for medical cannabis-using patients and businesses to operate. It is our hope that a Hawai‘i-based financial institution opens accounts in the future. For now, we are appreciative of the mainland credit union for stepping in,” added Ikeda.

Hawai‘i’s cashless system will allow cannabis dispensaries to use traditional financial services to legally conduct financial transactions. In addition, dispensaries will be capable of setting up direct deposit for employee payroll, collect and remit taxes, and make payments to vendors.

All transactions will be transparent, as purchases at retail dispensaries occur through the mobile application and other transactions would be recorded by the financial institution.

Maui Wellness Group, LLC dba Maui Grown Therapies and Aloha Green LLC, the state’s two operational dispensaries, have opened accounts with the mainland credit union and have begun using the mobile debit payment application. The remaining six dispensaries are now at different stages of development and varying stages of the approval process.

More information on the Medical Cannabis Registry Program and the Medical Marijuana Dispensary Program is available at http://health.hawaii.gov/medicalmarijuana.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) on the banking solution can be found at https://cca.hawaii.gov/dfi/files/2017/09/MCD-FAQs.pdf.

Volcano Fire Injures One

A fire in the Volcano area of the Big Island last night injured one person and sent two others to the Hilo Medical Center:

Situation Found at Scene: Found Single story single family residential structure fully involved in fire upon arrival of first responding units. All occupants at home at the time were able to exit the structure and all accounted for.

Cause: Under investigation.

Remarks: There were 3 people home at the time the fire started. 1 adult male who sustained burns while trying to put the fire out, who was transported to Hilo Medical Center in Serious condition; and 2 minors, 1 male and 1 female who didn’t have any noticeable injuries but were also transported to Hilo Medical Center for precautionary measures and further evaluation.

Hawaii Attorneys Providing Free Legal Support to Texans in Need

Hawaii attorneys have been answering the urgent call for legal help to Texans in need due to Hurricane Harvey. Last week, the Texas Supreme Court issued an emergency order authorizing out-of-state lawyers to practice law in Texas temporarily to help tens of thousands of Texans needing legal assistance resulting from the disaster caused by Hurricane Harvey.

Chief Justice Mark E. Recktenwald

“The utter devastation we have witnessed in the Texas Gulf Coast is heart breaking,” said Hawaii Chief Justice Mark E. Recktenwald. “Our thoughts and prayers are with those who have been impacted by this tragedy.”

“Although thousands of miles away, we are gratified that lawyers in Hawaii are able to help by volunteering either on the ground in Texas or remotely through a free virtual legal advice line.”

Hurricane victims will likely have legal questions about insurance, benefits, employment, tenant rights, and property damage issues. Hawaii attorneys wanting to volunteer to help them may register with the Texas.Freelegalanswers.org site. Once registered, they will receive confirmation from the Texas site administrator and may then start answering questions posted by those in need.

I want to thank Volunteer Legal Services Hawaii for coordinating Hawaii’s participation in the Texas Free Legal Answers program,” Chief Justice Recktenwald said. “I also want to express my sincere appreciation to the Hawaii State Bar Association for quickly taking the lead in recruiting attorneys.”

Rep. Tulsi Gabbard Votes to Send Federal Aid to Hurricane Victims, and Ensure the Government Remains Open

Congresswoman Tulsi Gabbard (HI-02) today voted for H.R. 601, which provides over $15 billion in emergency federal aid to assist the victims of Hurricane Harvey, Hurricane Irma, and other extreme weather events throughout the country. This funding ensures FEMA can provide immediate emergency response and relief as well as longer-term recovery efforts. The bill also extends the federal debt limit and ensures that the government remains open and able to deliver services until December 8, 2017.

“National tragedies like Hurricane Harvey and Hurricane Irma test our country’s resolve. With today’s funding bill, Congress came together, putting the American people before partisanship and politics, to support the emergency response and recovery efforts serving the people most affected by these disasters.  Since Hurricane Harvey hit, we have seen the aloha spirit coming from people all across the country who have turned out to support those struggling in the wake of this disaster.  We are reminded that when one part of the country faces adversity, our nation comes together and perseveres. In the last week, we have witnessed compassion from neighbors, bravery from first responders, and responsiveness from public institutions. As communities in Texas and Louisiana begin the process of recovery and renewal, the entire country sends its thoughts, prayers, and support to the people of the Caribbean and Florida who are dealing with Hurricane Irma,” said Congresswoman Tulsi Gabbard.

Officer Coley Rowe “Officer of the Month” for September 2017

The Kona Crime Prevention Committee has recognized Officer Coley Rowe as the “Officer of the Month” for September 2017.

Officer Coley Rowe

On (June 30), at around 5:00 p.m., Hawaiʻi Fire Department Rescue personnel reported that a man had been observed sitting on the rooftop of a Kona-area Harbor building for a few hours and had threatened to jump off. He also threatened harm on anyone who would try to stop him. Compounding this was an event scheduled at the building that had now drawn about 100-200 people.

After HFD Rescue and Police personnel attempted to convince the man to come down, it became apparent that the man was being very uncooperative and was not going to come down. Police and Fire personnel were concerned for the man’s safety, as well as the safety of the many people at the event.

At one point, Officer Coley Rowe volunteered to climb on to the rooftop and attempt to talk the man down. After receiving instructions to not engage physically with this person, Officer Rowe climbed up and placed himself in a non-threatening position that allowed him to safely communicate with the man.

Officer Rowe was able to establish a dialogue with the man, and after talking with him for about 30 minutes, the man reached his hand out to Officer Rowe for help. Officer Rowe assisted the man off of the roof to waiting Hawai‘i Fire Department personnel. The man was transported and admitted to the Kona Community Hospital.

Officer Rowe’s actions resulted in a peaceful and injury free resolution to this tense and unpredictable situation.

Officer Rowe is a 9-year veteran of the Hawai‘i Police Department.

Mayor Kim Issues Emergency Proclamation Regarding North Kona Water Emergency

Mayor Harry Kim issued an Emergency Proclamation on Wednesday regarding the North Kona water emergency.

His statement is as follows:

“The Emergency Proclamation which was officially signed today was initially intended to be completed in August.  The purpose of this Proclamation is to ensure that all administrative readiness is established by the County in the event that assistance will be needed from the State government.

This Proclamation also allows County government to bypass certain procurement policies in the event that emergency purchases must be made. This also includes the use of emergency funds for the use of the Department of Water Supply’s needs.”

Click on the link to access the Emergency Proclamation:

http://records.co.hawaii.hi.us/weblink/1/doc/89509/Page1.aspx

Confirmed Case of Mumps at Konawaena High School


The cases of mumps in Hawaii continues to climb.  The Department of Health has not been listing many of the recent cases, but today a case was confirmed here at a high school on the Big Island of Hawaii:

Aloha Konawaena Families,

We wanted to inform you that we do have a confirmed case of mumps on our campus. We have taken all the necessary steps to address this issue.

Today, all students received a pink letter with more information about mumps. Please ask your child about this letter. Those students who may have been in close contact with the student with mumps will receive an additional letter in the mail. All those students who need to be excluded from school have already been notified by phone.

Thank you for your attention to this matter.

Diane Spencer, Vice Principal

Senator Schatz Statement on Trump Administration Decision to End DACA

U.S. Senator Brian Schatz (D-Hawai‘i) today released the following statement in response to the Trump administration’s decision to end the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program:

U.S. Senator Brian Schatz and the Late Hawaii Senator Gil Kahele assist in Pahoa after Tropical Storm Iselle hit.

“This is one of the most inhumane things this administration could do. It doesn’t matter where you stand on immigration. We should all be able to agree that people who came here as children, who have grown up as American as anyone else’s kids, should not be stripped away from the communities they’re a part of to go back to a country they don’t remember.

“People trusted the government when they chose to register as Dreamers. And now, this administration has betrayed their trust and will ruin their lives.”

Rep. Tulsi Gabbard Statement On Trump Administration Decision To End DACA

Congresswoman Tulsi Gabbard (HI -02) today released the following statement in response to the Trump administration’s decision to end the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program.

Congresswoman Tulsi Gabbard stated:

“President Trump’s decision to end the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program is wrong. It will break up families and punish young people who were brought to this country as minors through no choice or fault of their own. These are people who have grown up in the United States, and who know no other country to be their home. DACA transformed the lives and futures of hundreds of thousands of young people, in Hawaii and across the country. Because of DACA they’ve been able to go to college, find a job, support their family, serve their country, and live free from the constant fear of deportation.

“In my home state of Hawaii, DACA has allowed more than 600 young people to remain legally in our country and contribute to our economy and society, including a member of my staff who came to the United States as a minor from Zimbabwe. Last week on Maui, I had the opportunity to hear from some of Hawaii’s DREAMers and hear their heart-wrenching stories about living in fear and in the shadows until DACA was put into effect. They cried as they shared their stories of the opportunity and freedom they have experienced because of DACA, and the fear of uncertainty in what lies ahead with the prospects of being forced to leave the only home they’ve ever known. Congress must act now to enact a permanent solution for these DREAMers and pass the bipartisan DREAM Act now.”

Democratic Party of Hawai‘i Statement on Trump Rescinding DACA

In response to the Trump’s administration decision to rescind the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA), created by President Obama in 2012 to protect immigrants who came to this country as children, Democratic Party of Hawai‘i (DPH) Chair, Tim Vandeveer, released the following statement:

“Today, the Trump administration turned its back on hard-working immigrant families and students. Donald Trump’s actions force thousands of immigrants back into the shadows, tears families and communities apart, and is a devastating blow to the nearly 800,000 young immigrants who only know this country as their home. Trump and his Republicans are choosing to further divide our country, create fear in our communities and hurt our economy. Donald Trump’s cruel actions today bend to the wishes of extremists in his own party. “

“In Hawai‘i, we know better because we are defined by our diversity and guided by Aloha. Democrats proudly stand by the estimated 558 DACA beneficiaries in Hawai‘i and will fight to protect our abiding values of liberty, social justice, economic justice, protection of the environment, and compassion and respect for the dignity and worth of the individual. We will continue to work to fix our broken immigration system and support the DREAMers who are contributing to our economy and society.”

The DPH will be hosting a phone bank to members of Congress and sign-making from 2pm – 4pm today at the DPH Headquarters located at 627 South St. #105 in Honolulu.

Following the phone bank, members will participate in a sign-waving in support of DACA recipients and DREAMers at the Federal Building located at 300 Ala Moana (Ewa corner where Ala Moana Blvd meets Halekauwila St) from 4:30pm – 5:30pm.

Notices to Women Regarding Access to Family Planning Services Must Be Allowed, State Argues

Yesterday the Department of the Attorney General filed a memorandum opposing an attempt by certain religiously-affiliated organizations to prevent a new law concerning women’s access to information regarding reproductive health services from being enforced. The law, Senate Bill 501 (2017), was passed by the Hawaii state legislature on May 4, 2017, and signed into law as Act 200 on July 12, 2017. It requires limited service pregnancy centers to notify women in writing regarding the availability of state-funded reproductive health services.

The Department’s memo argues that the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals, the federal appeals court with jurisdiction over several Western states including Hawaii, already upheld a similar law passed by California in 2015.
The opposition memo states in part:

The Legislature has found that “[m]any women in Hawaii … remain unaware of the public programs available to provide them with contraception, health education and counseling, family planning, prenatal care, pregnancy-related, and birth-related services.” To address this concern, [Act 200] was enacted into law. It requires “limited service pregnancy centers,” as defined in the Act, to disseminate a written notice to clients or patients informing them that Hawaii has public programs that provide immediate free or low-cost access to comprehensive family planning services.

A similar filing was made in a related case yesterday as well.

Governor Ige Visits with Hawaiʻi Air National Guard Members Heading to Texas on Hurricane Harvey Relief Mission

A Hawaiʻi Air National Guard C-17 Globemaster III transport aircraft from the 204th Airlift Squadron, 154th Wing, departed Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam early this morning as part of the nation’s Hurricane Harvey relief effort.

The C-17, carrying two flight crews and maintenance personnel (16 Airmen in total) will initially fly to Memphis International Airport in Tennessee, from where they will transport relief supplies to the hurricane-damaged areas around Houston, Texas. Hurricane Harvey is one of the worst natural disasters in U.S. history. The Hawaiʻi Air National Guard received the request for assistance from the National Guard Bureau yesterday afternoon and was prepared to depart just after dawn today.

Gov. David Y. Ige and Hawaiʻi National Guard leadership were on hand to see the flight crews and maintenance personnel off at Hickam Field.

“I’m very proud of our Hawaiʻi National Guard Airmen who were able to generate this mission on very short notice,” said Gov. Ige. “Hawaiʻi stands with our brothers and sisters in Texas and I know the crew will be bringing the Aloha Spirit to a lot of people who are in great need right now.”

The C-17 has been tasked with transporting relief supplies such as generators, tactical shelters, medical supplies and field kitchens from National Guard units from other states. They anticipate they will be flying multiple missions and the return date has not yet been determined. The 204th Airlift Squadron is one of three flying units within the Hawaiʻi Air National Guard’s 154th Wing, the largest and most complex wing in the entire Air National Guard. The Guard is tasked with being ready for war or any other operational contingency overseas and well as disaster response here at home.

Fire and Dry Conditions Prompt Road Closures and Precautions at Hawaii Volcanoes National Park

Due to escalating fire danger in Hawai‘i Volcanoes National Park, park officials have closed Hilina Pali Road from the Mauna Iki Trailhead and Mauna Loa Road at the gate past Kīpukapuaulu. Non-motorized day use such as hiking and bicycling will be permitted, and backcountry camping on Mauna Loa is allowed with a permit.

NPS Photo

In addition, ‘Āinahou Ranch access will be restricted to essential personnel and authorized vehicles only. Campfires are prohibited at Nāmakanipaio Campground and Kīpukapuaulu until further notice. The use of fuel stoves is allowed.

On Thursday afternoon, a fire burned nearly three acres of seasonally dry ‘ōhi‘a woodland and scattered koa trees, forcing park officials to close Mauna Loa Road from Highway 11 and temporarily evacuate Nāmakanipaio Campground. National Park Service and County of Hawai‘i fire crews responded to the blaze, located about ¼ mile west of Kīpukapuaulu. As of 8 a.m. Friday, the fire was 50 percent contained, and its spread had been halted.

No structures or homes were threatened. Park officials report that the fire was started unintentionally, and its cause is under investigation.

“We’ve had an extremely hot and dry summer in the park, and across the island which escalates the risk of fire,” said Hawai‘i Volcanoes National Park Chief Ranger John Broward. “Hot components on motor vehicles have historically contributed to the increased risk of fire, and by reducing the number of vehicles, we can mitigate the potential for a catastrophic event,” he said.