Questioning the Replies to My Questions – Re: Civil Defense and West Hawaii Flooding

Thank you for the prompt reply to my questions regarding the Counties Civil Defense response Wednesday.

Below in Green our my responses to the counties responses to my original questions.  (I’m not sure if you will be able to see this in color on your computers or not… so I’m also posting a blog of my replies to your questions on my blog).

I hope we can continue the discussion about bringing the COUNTY up to speed in the Digital world.  I know we are known for “Hawaii Time”… but we don’t have to be.

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:

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.

It is interesting that ONLY 2600 people have signed up for this and they are using the White Pages to get other numbers.

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.

Civil Defense 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 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).

Was it used on Wednesday at all?

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.

I don’t know many people that listen to the radio anymore.  CD’s, IPOD’s and Internet Streaming is becoming more mainstream then the radio.  Even many people traveling in their cars are now listening to CD’s or IPOD’s through their speakers instead of a commercialized radio broadcast.

3. The only way I heard about the Flooding was through a Twitter Message put out by KWXX:
You probably got the Twitter message only because Civil Defense sent the info to the radio stations.

That is probably correct, it’s sad that I have to receive my information from a Radio Station Tweet, instead of a government official.  The nice thing about the Radio Stations Tweet feed, is that I read it more then 45 minutes after it was posted.  Twitter feeds are available all the time… Radio Station “SPOTS”  are only  30 seconds played every 20 minutes or so on the radio.  Some people can get in and out of their cars before that message is even played.

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.

Very STRANGE that someone would hijack the Hawaii Civil Defense Twitter Name and then post VOG warnings the day that Pahoa got vogged out, on that account.


Damon Tucker

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