Hawaii County Civil Defense Update for #Flossie

This is a Civil Defense Message

This is a Tropical Storm Warning Information Update for Monday July 29th at 1:00 PM.

The Tropical Storm Warning remains in effect.  Tropical Storm Flossie is currently located approximately 65 miles Northeast of Hilo and continues to move in a West Northwest direction at 18 miles per hour.  

Storm force winds are currently being reported in the areas of Punaluu in Kau and the Pahoa and lower areas of the Puna district.  The Hawaii Police Department has reported fallen trees on Highway 132 in the area of the Lava Tree Park and the highway is closed to all traffic at this time.  Crews are on scene working to clear the roadway and a detour has been set up for traffic to proceed through the Leilani Estates Subdivision.

Power outages are also being reported in some areas and HELCO crews are working on repairs to the system. 

The public is advised to remain off the roadways if possible and to anticipate continued storm force winds and possible road hazards. 

Heavy rains and flooding is expected as the storm conditions continue to impact Hawaii Island.  Please monitor your local news and weather forecasts and prepare for continued storm activity.  Additional messages will be broadcasted as information is made available.

Again, the Tropical Storm Warning remains in effect.  Tropical Storm Flossie is currently located approximately 65 miles Northeast of Hilo and continues to move in a West Northwest direction at 18 miles per hour.

Storm force winds are currently being reported in the areas of Punaluu in Kau and the Pahoa and lower areas of the Puna district. The Hawaii Police Department has reported fallen trees on Highway 132 in the area of the Lava Tree Park and the highway is closed to all traffic at this time.  Crews are on scene working to clear the roadway and a detour has been set up for traffic to proceed through the Leilani Estates Subdivision.

Power outages are also being reported in some areas and HELCO crews are working on repairs to the system.  The public is advised to remain off the roadways if possible and to anticipate continued storm force winds and possible road hazards.  Heavy rains and flooding is expected as the storm conditions continue to impact Hawaii Island.  

Please monitor your local news and weather forecasts and prepare for continued storm activity.  

Additional messages will be broadcasted as information is made available.



Hawaii County Emergency Warning Siren TEST Scheduled for Tuesday, July 16

The Hawaiʻi County Civil Defense Agency will conduct a test of the emergency warning siren system on Tuesday, July 16 at 11:45 a.m. This test is necessary to confirm system readiness in the wake of adjustments and repairs performed immediately following the regular monthly test on July 1.

The new Hakalau siren

The new Hakalau siren

During the July 1 test, 18 of the 71 sirens did not activate, and the malfunction was linked to a radio system repeater site. The issue was corrected immediately, and the follow-up test on July 16 has been scheduled to confirm that the repairs were successful.

The public is reminded that the siren system is just one method of notification of emergencies and disasters. The activation or sounding of the sirens is a prompt to listen to the radio for follow-up information and instructions. The public is also encouraged to learn about the hazards that affect our community including tsunamis, hurricanes, earthquakes, floods, etc., and to plan and prepare for those unpredictable events.

Our goal is to continually improve our systems and capabilities, and to reduce the potential for breaks or gaps in our ability to provide the community with accurate and timely notifications and advisories.  We appreciate the public’s understanding, and want to assure our community that every effort will be made to provide the necessary information and guidance to allow you to make decisions in the best interest of your safety.



Poll: Do You Worry About the Potential of a North Korean Missile Attack?

With all this talk about North Korea and the missiles they have on stand-by that could potentially reach Hawaii and allegedly targeting military bases here in Hawaii and throughout the Pacific… Do You Worry About the Potential of a North Korean Missile Attack?

[polldaddy poll=6997007]

I also wonder what the State Civil Defense system is working on in preparation for something like this.

Missile Launch

They say that it would only take 30 minutes for a missile to arrive here from North Korea!

I still remember what I wrote back in 2009 the first time I heard about the potential threat… now it seems like they are cranking things up a bit.

Hawaii News Now reports today that:

“Raising tensions with South Korea yet again, North Korea cut its last military hotline with Seoul on Wednesday, saying there was no need to continue military communications between the countries in a situation “where a war may break out at any moment….”

Siren at Hakalau in North Hilo Replaced

The siren at Hakalau in North Hilo, on Highway 19 just north of mile marker 15 near Chin Chuck Road, has been replaced. The old siren was removed after being rendered unusable as a result of a traffic accident in 2011.

The new Hakalau siren

The new Hakalau siren

A final inspection was completed yesterday to verify the installation and function of the new siren. The new Hakalau siren will better serve the area with enhanced range capability, and increased reliability as a result of electronic activation and photovoltaic panels and batteries to maintain constant power to the siren.

The new siren is mounted on a composite pole, making it more resistant to deterioration caused by the elements or termites.

Hawai‘i County Civil Defense thanks the public for their cooperation and understanding during Thursday’s test of the Hakalau siren. As a reminder, the monthly Emergency Alert System and Siren Warning System test will take place as normally scheduled on the first working day of the month, Wednesday, January 2, 2013 at 11:45 a.m.


State Civil Defense Siren Maintenance on Oahu Tomorrow

State Civil Defense siren maintenance technicians will conduct testing at the following siren locations Monday, November 19, 2012:

• Aiea High School
• Aiea Heights
• Waimalu Elementary School
• Pearl City District Park
• Palisades Elementary School

Residents in these areas may hear the sirens sound for 30-seconds during the identified time periods. The technicians will use data gathered from these tests to verify operational status and maintenance actions.

Oahu residents may call State Civil Defense at 733-4300 if they have any questions or concerns regarding this test of the Statewide Outdoor Siren Warning System.

State Civil Defense encourages the public to make use of redundant methods of warning including, but not limited to, text notification systems and NOAA Weather Radio.

All But Two Civil Defense Sirens Fixed

To expedite repairs to Civil Defense warning sirens that didn’t function properly during November’s monthly siren test, State Civil Defense technicians flew to the Big Island Friday to inspect and repair four sirens on the west side of the island (Puakō, Kamehameha Park, Kahaluʻu Beach Park and Nāpoʻopoʻo).

Meanwhile, personnel from Hawaiʻi County Civil Defense and the Hawaiʻi Police Department’s Radio Shop worked through the weekend to oversee and inspect seven sirens on the east side of the island. Of those, two functioned properly (Kawailani and Paʻauilo), three were repaired over the weekend (Pāpaʻikou, ʻOʻōkala and Paradise Park and) and one (Honokaʻa) was completed Monday (November 5) by a private contractor.

State Civil Defense technicians returned to the Big Island on Monday and repaired the siren at Laupāhoehoe Point.

The two remaining sirens that are not functioning, one at Hakalau, which was knocked over in a car crash, and one at Waiaka, which has a frozen motor, require new parts and extensive work by private contractors. State Civil Defense hopes to have the Hakalau siren in operation in time for the December monthly test. A time line has not been established for the Waiaka siren.

Hawaiʻi County Civil Defense Administrator Ben Fuata said he appreciates the assistance of the Police Department and State Civil Defense for working “tirelessly” through the weekend along with his staff. “We’ve made a substantial dent in improving the efficiency and enhancing the readiness of our emergency siren alerting system,” Fuata said. “For that I am grateful and indebted to them for their service.”

Police Chief Harry S. Kubojiri added that the collaboration of the three agencies and private contractors is an example of the Police Department’s partnership with the community. “The public’s safety is our number one concern,” Kubojiri said. “That cannot be compromised.”

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:


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.

Tsunami Siren Testing Today May Not Validate Actual Emergency Situation

I wonder why I get emergency emails from the county hours after I get them via Hawaii Nixle Emergency Alerts.

The most recent Nixle “EMERGENCY ALERT” paid for with our tax dollars.

Of course I find it funny that the Hawaii County Police Department would use an emergency alert service like Nixel to promote it’s self at times by posting thing like “Police Officer of the Month” on an emergency service.  Lord knows if we as the public used a service like 911 to promote ourselves all hell would break out.

Then again… I didn’t get anything via Nixle the night of the Tsunami Evacuations!

If folks are relying on email for emergency notifications… it may be too late when a real emergency does happen!  I’m gonna depend on myself for notices until the county get’s the kinks worked out.

The Sirens will be tested today with county workers stationed at each siren.

I guarantee they will report that the Pahoa Siren closest to my house is functioning properly (as it always does on the drill days)

I know for a fact that Pahoa’s siren didn’t go off until about 9:15 at night more then two hours after I posted the warning on my site.

Having County workers standing by at these sirens tomorrow won’t prove much I expect…. as I expect my siren to go off as usual during a warning.


There was a moral to the story of the boy who called wolf!

Commentary on Tsunami Sirens by Councilman Pete Hoffmann – “The Sounds of Silence”

Councilman Pete Hoffman

Councilman Pete Hoffmann

Last Saturday evening, we were visited once again by a frequent, if not welcomed, visitor, i.e. the threat of a tsunami. This was the third such event in the past 32 months and permitted island residents and agencies to participate in what is fast becoming an island staple, “the annual evacuation drill”. Fortunately, the threat remained exactly that. Some Saturday night festivities and events were cancelled or curtailed, many took to the roads seeking higher ground, others raced to the gas stations and local markets to ‘top off’ or stock-up (on what I’m not certain??), evacuation centers were opened, and in general residents displayed a growing non-chalance that is becoming part of the fabric of life on an island in the Pacific Ocean.

For the most part, our County first responders, Civil Defense, CERT volunteers and others performed with a degree of professionalism that comes from repeated ‘drills’. There will always be problems of some kind, and glitches will occur no matter how often the system is exercised. However, I agree with Mayor Kenoi when he notes that County personnel accomplished tasks in an outstanding fashion.

So am I the only one who remains concerned about our preparedness? In the rush to ‘pat ourselves on the back for a job well done’ I continue to question why considerable portions of our coastline with sizeable developments do not have any tsunami sirens. Why is it that after two previous tsunamis, some resort areas do not have a single siren in place? Didn’t we stress this danger last year and the year before?? Didn’t it take some legislative arm-wrestling to convince County officials that some zoning regulations need to be introduced to insure residents in those areas, most vulnerable to a tsunami have sufficient warning? Wasn’t the County supposed to follow-up with State officials to insure this situation doesn’t happen? Doesn’t this fall within the public health and safety mandates of our County government?? Despite the obvious dangers, Tsunami #3 came and there remain too many built up areas that lack a siren capability.

Do not misunderstand. A functioning siren system may not be the only or even the best warning capability. It takes, I believe, a combination of several components to provide our residents an effective early warning structure. My fear is that for some on our island, particularly along our coastlines, a siren is a critical ingredient that must be operational to provide the broad coverage so necessary for public safety. The silence along some portions of our coast is truly deafening.

Consider for a moment the timeframe involved: the February 2010 event allowed us 13+ hours lead time. The March 2011 event permitted us a seven hour warning. Last Saturday’s exercise cut that time to three hours. Does anyone see a pattern here?? My concern is that the next event may allow the County perhaps one hour or less to evacuate large numbers of people from our coastline. And knowing that our luck may finally run out, it will be in the dead of night when the visitor count is high and our snow-birds are here.

Before we “pat ourselves on the back” too much, we must return to basics. We are not as prepared as we think we are if sirens remain absent from many vulnerable areas. We are fooling ourselves if we think we are ready. We must make this deficiency a persistent and vocal objective of our County government now, not in the short-term, but immediately. Enough talk and promises. Solutions are required now and if sirens are lacking, some effective alternative must be put in place. This public health and safety shortfall cannot be permitted to exist when our next “annual tsunami drill” occurs. The sounds of silence must not continue.

Pete Hoffmann

Police Investigating Break-Ins During Tsunami Evacuations

Big Island police are investigating several break-ins that took place in the Keaukaha area of Hilo during the tsunami evacuation Saturday night (October 27).

Eight residential burglaries were reported on Kalanianaʻole Avenue. Police are investigating each one as a “burglary of a dwelling during a civil defense emergency,” which is a Class A felony punishable by up to 20 years in prison.

Police ask that anyone with information about these burglaries (or anyone who didn’t evacuate and saw suspicious persons in the area) call Sergeant James Correa at 961-2289 or the Police Department’s non-emergency line at 935-3311.

Tipsters who prefer to remain anonymous may call Crime Stoppers at 961-8300 in Hilo or 329-8181 in Kona and may be eligible for a reward of up to $1,000. Crime Stoppers is a volunteer program run by ordinary citizens who want to keep their community safe. Crime Stoppers doesn’t record calls or subscribe to caller ID. All Crime Stoppers information is kept confidential.

What Happened to the Civil Defense Sirens During Last Nights Tsunami Warnings

Well as everyone knows by now we had a big scare again with a Tsunami Warning that happened following a 7.7 magnitude earthquake off the British Columbia coastline.

I was following the story fairly closely but was pretty concerned because the Civil Defense Sirens were not going off and nothing was being reported on the Civil Defense Page about the possible incoming tsunami.

In fact the only thing the Civil Defense Page did report was the following nearly 5 hours after the first wave was suppose to hit:

“This is a Civil Defense Message for Sunday October 28, 2012 at 4:15 AM

The Pacific Tsunami Warning Center has cancelled the tsunami advisory for the Island of Hawaii, however small sea level changes and strong or unusual currents may persist for several additional hours.  Beaches will remain closed until further notice.  This will be the final message issued for this event unless conditions change.

This is your Hawaii County Civil Defense”

I first learned about it at 7:15 pm Hawaii time and didn’t even hear the first siren in Pahoa until nearly 9:15 in the evening!


I know that the sirens were going off in Kona earlier as my wife was staying at the Keauhou Resort for a soccer tournament and they got evacuated as soon as the sirens went off over there around 8:30.

I was getting facebook reports from other parts of the island that they weren’t hearing sirens either.

Big Island Video News posted a video of the strange tidal action that was happening shortly after the tsunami hit and you can view that here “Video: Tsunami Brings Strange Tides to Wailoa Boat Harbor“.

Hilo High School Gym Project Delayed Due to Difficulties in Obtaining Building Permit

Rep. Jerry Chang and the Hawaii Island legislative delegation today received new information from the Department of Education on the status of the Hilo High School Gymnasium project, which they wanted to share with the community.

Artist rendition of the earlier proposed Hilo High gym

According to the Department, the Hilo High School gym project has been delayed due to difficulties in obtaining a Hawaii County building permit.  The County is requiring the project to meet Chapter 3-180 Hawaii Administrative Rules, specifically an update to Section 423 pertaining to being able to sustain high winds of 155 miles per hour.

The project is currently designed to sustain 115 mph winds, which was agreed upon with the State Civil Defense.  During the design phase of the project, the building was planned on the Uniform Building Code in effect when Hawaii County required only 80 mph.  State Civil Defense continues to support the project at 115 mph due to the fact that the gym is intended to be used as an emergency shelter if needed, but not as a hurricane shelter.

While the DOE submitted the permit application prior to the adoption of the new rules, the County interprets the submittal date to be after the documents have been routed and approved by all other agencies.  In this case, the County considers the project to fall under the newly adopted rules.  Therefore, the Hilo High School gym application must follow the 155 mph requirement, and the consulting firm working on the project, Kober/Hanssen/Mitchell Architects, Inc., is redesigning portions of the gym to conform.

The DOE anticipates that the redesign may impact the cost of the project.  A proposed solution from the consultant is expected on or around February 14, 2012.

“We are disappointed in the delays,” said Rep. Jerry Chang.  “We hope that the DOE and the consultant can work out a solution with the County that will save as much time and money as possible.  A new gymnasium is sorely needed in our community; the community has waited patiently, and we wanted to make sure that they knew the reasons for the delay.”

If and When It Gets Really Bad… An Excerpt

I found this interesting write up by former Big Island resident Charles “Buc” Fitch on the Radio World Blog and I thought I’d move an excerpt of it over here:

….The first time I really got into this weighty issue was in 1970 when I attended disaster planning meetings on the Big Island of Hawaii. We were one of only four radio stations on the island.

We recognized the following emergency events that could seriously affect the populace, in descending order:

Violent volcanic eruption with resulting unpredictable lava flows
Pestilence (this included plague, rampant disease, water quality issues, etc.)
Invasion (including fallout)

(Pestilence was not a joke but a real fear. When you’re on an island, you’re in an incubator. Half the indigenous Hawaiian population had been wiped out by diseases brought by missionaries.)

We focused on ways to keep our civilization running if weather or lava took out power generation, road connections, airport operations, communication microwave systems to the other islands, port facilities and the phone cable to the mainland.

Our station was near clear channel on 850, but the transmitter and studio were right on the water — definitely in the line of any tsunami that might come in our direction.

Given our modest resources, this is what we decided should be done:

-First, since the warning time for a major water inundation event was limited, the word “tsunami” would never be used on air except in the context of emergency announcements, period. The word was off-limits for humor, as a comparative, in advertising as a superlative and the like. We wanted people to pay attention when they heard the word “tsunami.”

-PSAs and issue programming would focus on how warnings for all events would be issued and what people should do in response to those warnings. What reasonable preparations should be accomplished in advance? How many gallons of potable water per person in the household should be kept on hand, batteries for radios, etc.?

-On the station side, we would evacuate along with everyone else, and move outside the tsunami impact zone and above the high wave level of previous hurricanes.

-The station would continue running with program input from the Civil Defense (remember CD?) emergency offices via dialup POTS. That would be my new duty post. Since the entire phone system in Hilo was hardwire DC with central battery, the phone system could run on for nearly two days without power; and if we were lucky enough for our radio station to stay on, our battery-powered mixer could provide program output for that period.

-If the radio station was wiped out, we all had backup assignments. I was to report to the chief engineer of the phone company to help in the restoration of their radio links.

Forty years later, circumstances are different all over the radio industry. For instance, almost every station has generators…

Full article here “If and When It Gets Really Bad


FREE Upcoming Community Emergency Response Training

Hawaii County Civil Defense Release:

Hawai`i County is ranked number one in the nation for potential hazards ~  earthquake, tsunami, flood, fire, hurricane, etc. The question isn’t if a disaster will strike, but when will a disaster strike … and will you be prepared? Will you be ready to care for yourself and your family?

Re-enactment during the 2009 Waimea Community Emergency Response Training

Maybe you’ve already assembled an emergency kit. Now learn the skills you need to help yourself, your family, and your neighbors respond to an emergency by attending the Community Emergency Response Team Training course (CERT). The 4-day CERT course is free and will be held on April 9, 16, 23, 30 at Waikoloa Elementary School from 8:30 am to 4:30 pm.

Residents, businesses, and community groups are eligible to participate in this course presented by the Hawai`i County Civil Defense and Fire Department. To register, or for more information please contact Bill Hanson of the Hawaii County Civil Defense Agency at 935-0031. http://www.citizencorps.gov/cert/about.shtm

State Civil Defense to Establish Kona Disaster Assistance Recovery Center to Offer Assistance to People Affected by the Tsunami

From the Mayor’s Office:

Hawai‘i State Civil Defense will establish a Community Disaster Assistance and Recovery Center (DARC) at Old Kona Airport Events Pavilion Tuesday, March 29 and Wednesday, March 30 to offer assistance to people affected by the tsunami.

The center will be staffed from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. by state, county and private sector crews ready to provide help and information to residents and businesses affected by the March 11 disaster.

“I want to thank State Civil Defense for moving quickly to establish this center to assist people who suffered damage in the tsunami,” said Mayor Billy Kenoi. “This cooperative government and private-sector effort will efficiently deliver the information and assistance that our residents need for the most rapid recovery possible.”

The County will provide representatives from the Office of the Mayor in Kona, the Department of Environmental Management and the Department of Public Works. A variety of state agencies have also been asked to attend, along with private organizations such as American Red Cross and Catholic Charities Hawai‘i.

State Civil Defense officials are contacting all of the people who called Aloha United Way’s 2-1-1 hotline for assistance in connection with the tsunami to invite them to visit the Disaster Assistance Recovery Center for additional information and assistance.

Mayor Kenoi and Gov. Neil Abercrombie have issued emergency proclamations in connection with the tsunami, and Gov. Abercrombie has requested that President Obama issue a presidential disaster declaration.

The last state-county Disaster Assistance Recovery Center established in Kailua-Kona was set up about two weeks after the Kiholo earthquake in 2006.

Councilman Hoffman on Tsunami Sirens and Effective Leadership

Commentary by Councilman Pete Hoffman:

There are times when one wonders whether anyone listens.  Part of the problem may be a lack of communication, or perhaps a lack of understanding of perhaps a lack of leadership.  You decide which of these applies in the recent tsunami siren debacle.

In December 2009, my office initiated discussions with County Civil Defense to address obvious shortfalls in tsunami siren coverage in our resort areas in West Hawaii, brought to my attention by a Puna resident.  A little research also noted that our County code had no requirements for such an early warning system.  The first “tsunami drill” of 26 Feb 2010 highlighted these deficiencies in an actual evacuation, and shortly thereafter, my office prepared a draft amendment to our code to address this issue.

The proposed legislation was referred to both the Planning Commissions, where last November and December, it was met with less than an enthusiastic reception.  The Planning Director criticized the draft proposal on several counts:  this effort shouldn’t be part of the plan approval process, State and County Civil Defense should administer the program, and maybe we shouldn’t inconvenience a developer with the associated costs of installing such a system. Both Planning Commissions gave my proposal a negative recommendation and sent it back to Council for further action.

Now I’ve been a Council member long enough to appreciate that there are many possibilities to address issues of this nature.  I have no difficulty if the Planning Director and the Commissions didn’t agree with my suggestions for resolving the issue, but someone please offer alternatives.  However, none were provided.  When the draft returned to the Council’s Planning Committee in January, I urged the administration to work on some viable options.  Several coastal communities were without an obvious public safety mechanism, our County code included no such requirements, and we already had one tsunami evacuation to prove that my concern was not science fiction.  My pleas fell on deaf ears.  I received ‘thunderous silence’ from the administration.  The only response noted was to suggest that the State should pay for the sirens, and that my proposal did not work with the Planning Department’s plan review process.

Personally, I really didn’t care who pays for the installation of the sirens.  The real questions remained: when will the sirens be installed and when will a requirement be established?  Surely I couldn’t be the only one who saw this issue.  Where was the administration’s initiative?  Where was effective leadership demonstrated?  And please, let’s stop the bureaucratic double-talk and concentrate on the shortfall.

In mid-February, after continuing to plead for the administration’s assistance in crafting a bill that would meet its criticisms, the Council’s Planning Committee, frustrated with the administration’s lack of action, approved my proposal sending it to full Council by a vote of 6-3.   Finally, we heard voices from the administration that the Council’s concerns would now be considered.

On 1 March, State Civil Defense went out on bid to install a number of new civil defense sirens on the Big Island not merely in tsunami evacuation zones.  These would include sirens in areas along the coast where none previously existed: among others, two at Mauna Lani, two in the Waikoloa resort area and one at Kona Village.   On 2 March, we were told that an alternative proposal would be drafted to address the deficiency in our code regarding siren requirements.  This flurry of activity did precede the second ‘tsunami drill’ on March 11, and generated a renewed urgency regarding this topic.  The new administration proposal has already been placed on both Planning Commission agendas in April and May, and it can be anticipated that the long-sought alternative will be brought to Council sometime in early June.

The route taken in the effort has been torturous. Would that all tsunamis react with the same ‘glacial speed’ as this legislative process, but at least it is moving forward.  We pride ourselves, with good reason, on the effectiveness of the County’s response to both of the tsunami evacuations and how all assisted.  However, the fact remains that we had thirteen hours and five and a half hours warning respectively.  Would we have been so fortunate if we only had one or two hours notice??  While this issue is finally being addressed and sirens will eventually be installed, after some 15 months of discussion the situation today is: there are significant shortfalls in siren coverage in our resort areas, and no requirement has yet been established for new developments in our code.  Let’s hope for better leadership and let’s pray we don’t have a “third tsunami drill” in which our reaction time would be dramatically reduced as it was in Japan.

Mayor Hanneman Approved Twitter Experiment? The Ongoing Twitter Saga of Civil Defense/Department of Emergency Management

On February 12th, I blogged that Hawaii County had a Twitter Account. Hawaii County Public Information Specialist replied to me in an email the following regarding that Twitter Account:
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.

On February 24th, I blogged that the Honolulu Civil Defense had joined Twitter, which in actuality turned out to be the Honolulu Department of Emergency Management the Oahu version of the Big Island’s Civil Defense.

On February 26th, I ammended the above post to say:

Yesterday, I blogged that the Honolulu County Department of Emergency Management was on Twitter.

I have reason to believe, that once again… Twitter users have been duped into “following” a fake twitter account. :evil:

A Twitter friend that would know whether they are on twitter or not, confirmed it with her friend that works there today that it is not a legit twitter account.

Today I find out the following:

OK, clearing things up, my contact @ DEM says @HonAlert was an I.T. experiment OKed by the mayor. DEM was not involved, though.

See my latest tweet about @HonAlert. Sounds messed up. Anyway, the DEM stuff is supposed to be removed from that profile, per my contact.

I just have to wonder if the initial post I reported on the Big Island Civil Defense Twitter Account was also an experiment.

I did say on February 13th:

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.

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:  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.

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:  http://twitter.com/KWXX/statuses/1201758225
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.

Civil Defense Plans Island-Wide Tsunami Warning Exercise

Media Release

Civil Defense plans island-wide tsunami warning exercise

Tuesday, January 27, won’t be an ordinary day in Hawaii County. Residents along the coastal areas that are vulnerable to the devastating effects of tsunamis will be witnessing an island-wide exercise designed to help County agencies be better prepared for a tsunami.

This will be the first full-scale tsunami response exercise conducted on the Big Island in many years, said Hawaii County Civil Defense administrator Quince Mento.

The training exercise will be highly visible to residents in or near tsunami inundation zones beginning shortly after 8 a.m., when County police, fire fighters and County crews will be mobilizing according to their existing tsunami response plans.

Earthquakes that occur on the Pacific Rim can give Hawaii as little as four hours to prepare for a tsunami.

“We’ve been very lucky in recent years in Hawaii County,” said Mento. The last significant tsunami generated on the Pacific Rim hit the Big Island in 1960, yet the island remains highly vulnerable to tsunamis generated by seismic activity that can occur any time, anywhere in the Pacific Ocean, Mento said.

County Civil Defense officials work closely with the Pacific Tsunami Warning Center to predict the size and estimated time of arrival in Hawaii when tsunamis are generated. The January 27th exercise will simulate a tsunami generated by an earthquake in Alaska, which would provide four hours of warning before it actually hit Hawaii.

The exercise is designed to test how well the County’s communications systems work in the event that a real tsunami is coming. Civil Defense notification procedures will be activated for the public, governmental agencies and non-governmental organizations such as public utility companies and the American Red Cross.

County Police officers will be assigned to key intersections where traffic would be turned back in the event of an actual tsunami warning. Police officers will be issuing fliers to motorists providing information about what would happen if the real warning were in effect. Roads will not be barricaded but motorists may experience minor delays. Barricades will be delivered to the intersections as part of the exercise but they will not be erected.

Residents may see lots of vehicle movement exercise, including county trucks, police cars and helicopters on the ground and in the air, and crews with the banners and barricades at their assigned intersections.

“I am confident that Quince Mento and the Hawaii County Civil Defense team are well prepared in the event of an island-wide disaster and that this will demonstrate their effectiveness,” said Hawaii County Mayor Billy Kenoi. “This kind of an exercise also demonstrates their dedication to bringing all of the different agencies involved, public and private, together to be ready do the best possible job of protecting our residents and property in times of emergency.”

The 8 a.m. starting time for the exercise is when various agencies will be notified to begin deploying banners and barricades at key intersections. The time was chosen so that it would not conflict with morning school traffic.

“Real world” emergencies, should they occur during the exercise, will take precedence for police officers, fire fighters and Civil Defense officials, Mento said.

The exercise will be over after police report that all simulated road block locations are secure. That is expected to occur by 10 a.m.

The impact on residents is expected to be minimal. Motorists in coastal areas however should drive carefully and be aware that police officers assigned to intersections in tsunami inundation zones may be distributing information about the tsunami exercise.

All County departments will conduct internal reviews of their procedures following the exercise to evaluate their effectiveness and make changes where necessary, said Mento, who is planning to make the tsunami exercise an annual event.

Civil Defense also will use its new electronic mass emergency notification system, City Watch, in conjunction with the exercise. The automated telephone system allows quick notification of large numbers of county personnel to respond to emergencies.

For more information about the exercise, call Hawaii County Civil  Defense, 961-8229.

For more information about tsunamis, visit the web sites of the Pacific Tsunami Warning Center http://www.prh.noaa.gov/ptwc/, and the Pacific Tsunami Museum, http://www.tsunami.org/.