Questions Answered Regarding Civil Defense and Wednesdays West Hawaii Flooding

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:

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.

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).

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 Twitter 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.

3 Responses

  1. i don’t think it says they called anyone.

    I appreciate your interest in west hawaii

  2. We had flash flooding two days in a row over here in So. Kohala.
    The houses flooded were the new 4-plexes off Waikoloa Road.They were built in a known flood plain.

    I’ve only been here for 4 years but I know about and have experienced flash flooding on roadways. I’ve heard a few stories, too. I know malihini who were freaked out that the stream next to their condo got enough water they could hear it. Duh, it actually looks like a dry river bed not a stream bed most of the time.

    Many lots are in the middle of NAMED RIVERS. Anyone buying a house on the Island should for sure check topographical, historical, and federal flood maps before buying in.

  3. I haven’t signed up because it is not announced and I have not asked who owns the data, who has a right to use it, and who is it given to.

    Well, you didn’t get to my question, but you did confirm I could get robo calls from the mayor.


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