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Zika Video Released by University of Hawaii’s National Disaster Preparedness Training Center

The National Disaster Preparedness Training Center (NDPTC) at the University of Hawaiʻi focuses on natural hazards like climate change and other threats to coastal and island communities.

Under a cooperative agreement with the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, Federal Emergency Management Agency, NDPTC has developed a short video in partnership with the State of Hawaiʻi Department of Health and the University of Hawaiʻi as part of its Just-in-Time Training initiative to promote awareness and deliver basic information about the Zika virus. The center has developed other Just-in-Time Training on tsunamis, volcanoes, and other emerging threats and hazards.

In this video, Sarah Park, state epidemiologist and chief of the Hawaiʻi Department of Health’s Disease Outbreak Control Division, provides key information about the virus including its potential for spreading from an infected pregnant woman to her fetus causing birth defects and transmission via mosquitoes and through sexual contact.

Zika has been found in the Americas, Oceania/Pacific Islands, Africa and Asia. According to the Center for Disease Control, travel-associated cases of the Zika virus have been found in every U.S. state except Alaska and Wyoming, and in every U.S. territory except Guam and American Samoa. Locally acquired cases have been found in only Florida, American Samoa, Puerto Rico and U.S. Virgin Islands. It is spread by the bite of an infected Aedes species of mosquito (Aedes aegypti and Aedis albopictus). With the impact of climate change there has been a growth in regions that support mosquito habitats worldwide, increasing the world’s vulnerability to mosquito-borne diseases.

Aedes species of mosquito

Aedes species of mosquito

“We are particularly concerned about Zika and other mosquito-borne diseases because of their potential impacts on vulnerable, at-risk populations,” said Karl Kim, professor of urban and regional planning at the University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa and executive director of the National Disaster Preparedness Training Center. “We need to increase awareness of the disease but also work towards effective strategies for monitoring as well as combating Zika. As a global visitor destination, Hawaiʻi needs a multi-pronged approach involving health care providers, urban planners, emergency responders, as well as households and businesses is needed to manage this health threat.”

Homeowners and businesses need to protect themselves against mosquitoes and implement effective programs for mosquito control. Training and education is needed to increase preparedness as well as response and mitigation capabilities.

NDPTC is committed to provide relevant and up-to-date training and education on the latest threats to our society.

FEMA Changing South Kona Floodplain – Questions and Answers for Residents

Why is FEMA changing the South Kona Floodplain?

The purpose of the Preliminary Flood Insurance Study (FIS) is to identify changes to flood hazards in the South Kona district.  This area has undergone an increase in residential and agricultural development since 1977.

FEMA

There are two phases to the study. Phase 1 is for watercourses 13-20, in Hōnaunau, Keōkea and a small section of Kiilae affecting property owners with tax map keys 8-4-004, 8-4-006, 8-4-008, 8-4-011, 8-4-012, 8-4-014, and 8-4-015.  Residents along watercourses 1-12 and 21-25 in phase 2 will receive notices before the end of summer.

The preliminary FIS analyzed the 10% (10-year), 4% (25-year), 2% (50-year), 1% (100-year), and 0.2% (500-year) chance of flooding events, the floodplain or Special Flood Hazard Areas (SFHA) boundaries, and the Base Flood Elevations (BFE).

The benefits of an updated Flood Insurance Study are:

  • Hydraulic modeling, hydrologic methodology and topographic maps are updated.
  • A 100-year base flood elevation (BEF) established.
  • Community planners and local officials gain an understanding of the flood hazards and public health and safety affecting the community and,
  • Home and business owners can make informed decisions about their insurance policy.

How does the new map affect me financially?

For structures in a Zone AE Special Flood Hazard Area (SFHA), flood insurance is mandatory for buildings with mortgages back by the federal government.  For structures in Zone X (outside of the SFHA), flood insurance is suggested but is not mandatory.

FEMA is offering a “Preferred Risk Policy Eligibility Extension,” a lower cost insurance rate for properties recently mapped into high-risk flood zones on or after October 1, 2008.  Http://www.floodsmart.gov/floodsmart/pages/prp_extension_information.jsp

What is the next step?

FEMA will begin its statutory 90-day appeal period allowing property owners the opportunity to submit appeals and protests on the preliminary FIS.  FEMA will issue in the local newspapers an advisory of its statutory 90-day appeal period with contact information for submitting appeals.

After the review and appeal periods have ended and all comments/appeals addressed, FEMA will begin final preparation of the FIS, which will both become effective six months later. For detailed information on appeals process, cut and paste in the browser http://www.fema.gov/library/viewRecord.do?id=4935

How do I submit an appeal or protest?

A property owner must submit technical and/or scientific data to file a protest regarding the accuracy of the flood study for their property to the County of Hawai‘i Floodplain Manager, Frank DeMarco fdemarco@hawaiicounty.gov  Supporting data will be reviewed if it constitutes a valid appeal or protest. 

If a property owner does not agree with FEMA’s Letter of Map Revision (LOMR)

Owners who believe their property is not in the Special Flood Hazard Area, (SFHA) may contact the County of Hawai‘i Floodplain Manager, Frank DeMarco (961-8042) or Carter Romero (961-8943) cromero@hawaiicounty.gov at the Department of Public Works Engineers’ division in Hilo, weekdays, from 7:00 AM to 4:30 PM.  Maps are also available Engineers’ office at the West Hawai‘i Civic Center.

FEMA offers an online tutorial to walk the applicant through the stages to have a property removed from a SFHA. Click on http://www.fema.gov/online-tutorials/letter-map-amendment/letter-map-revision-f-tutorial-series-choose-tutorial

Ten (10) percent discount on flood insurance

In 1968, the U.S. Congress passed the National Flood Insurance Act, which created the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP) to reduce future flood losses through local floodplain management and provide protection for property owners against potential losses through flood insurance.  The County of Hawai‘i is responsible for submitting revised flood hazard data to FEMA to revise the FIS, and Preliminary Digital Flood Insurance Rate Maps (DFIRMs).  The NFIP map revisions allow risk premium insurance rates and flood plain management requirements based on current data.

The County of Hawai‘i also participates in the NFIP’s Community Rating System (CRS) enabling people with property in designated flood zones to purchase flood insurance at a lower rate.  The County of Hawai‘i has a class 8 rating, offering a ten (10) discount on flood insurance premiums to these property owners.

The CRS objective is to reward communities that do more than meet the minimum NFIP requirements to help citizens prevent or reduce flood losses.  CRS does this by providing incentives to communities to initiate flood protection activities through floodplain management and public outreach.

Hawaii Launches Disaster Preparedness Pilot Program

Today is a perfect day to prepare—for the unexpected. That describes the theme of a pilot education campaign to encourage Hawai‘i residents to fully prepare for large-scale emergencies and disasters, before they happen. The pilot launched Wednesday, May 2, following Tsunami Preparedness Month in April.


Hawai‘i’s four county mayors, each with emergency management stories to tell, are rallying to kick off and support the campaign. They agree that the price of an unprepared Hawaii is too high.

Project research confirms that Hawai‘i residents are no strangers to disaster. Eighty-nine percent of residents say they have experienced a large-scale disaster, but only 25 percent say they are very prepared. Eighty-two percent of residents also believe that government and community organizations are primarily responsible for their preparedness. Many residents said they were too busy or that they never thought about preparing. Others even admitted to being lazy or resigned to wait until the need arises.

“Many people are not as prepared as they think are. Many others would wait until it is too late to prepare. We’ve seen lines at gas stations and grocery stores when storms head our way,” said Mayor Peter Carlisle, “The goal of this campaign is to determine the best ways to get individuals, families and businesses ready for disasters—before they come. “We need to educate our community about what it means to be fully prepared: emergency kits that are complete and sufficient for seven days; a plan that describes what each family member or employee can do during an emergency; and staying informed about emergency situations, including knowing evacuation routes and shelter locations.”

Counties, under the leadership of their emergency management programs, work together every day to help residents plan and prepare for catastrophic events such as natural disasters and human-caused disasters, including terrorism. The City and County of Honolulu is leading this project for the counties under the FEMA Regional Catastrophic Preparedness Grant Program. O‘ahu is the site for the pilot campaign to determine what messages and methods of communication are most likely to improve disaster preparedness.

“Hawai‘i has island-specific disaster preparedness challenges affected by a combination of economic, language and cultural factors. But the state is also blessed with committed organizations that serve vulnerable populations and help in outreach,” said Melvin N. Kaku, Honolulu’s Director of Emergency Management. “There is no better time than now to prepare.”

The campaign includes public service announcements that include a TV spot, several radio spots, print advertising, environmental advertising, point-of-purchase displays at retail locations and a significant online/social media presence.

The pilot campaign is supported by significant in-kind donations from media outlets and retailers, and is supported by Retail Merchants of Hawai‘i. Throughout the month of May, retailers will promote disaster preparedness through in-store education and product displays that highlight both disaster preparedness supplies and information about what it means to be fully prepared.

For more information about the pilot campaign, or to download a complete media kit, visit www.GetReadyHawaii.org.

FCC and FEMA to Conduct First Nationwide Test of the Emergency Alert System

As part of their ongoing efforts to keep our country and communities safe during emergencies, the Federal Communications Commission and Federal Emergency Management Agency will conduct the first nationwide test of the Emergency Alert System (EAS).

The EAS test plays a key role in ensuring the nation is prepared for all hazards, and that the U.S. public can receive critical and vital information, should it ever be needed. The first nationwide test will be conducted Wednesday, November 9, at 9 am Hawaiʻi Standard Time. This test may last up to three and a half minutes and will be transmitted via television and radio stations within the U.S., including Alaska, Hawaiʻi, the territories of Puerto Rico, the U.S. Virgin Islands and American Samoa.

Similar to local emergency alert system tests, an audio message will interrupt television and radio programming indicating: “This is a test.” When the test is over, regular programming will resume. For more information about the nationwide Emergency Alert System test, please visit http://www.fema.gov/medialibrary/media_records/6407. On November 9 at 9 a.m. HST, please remember: Don’t stress; it’s only a test.

President Obama Signs Hawaii Disaster Declaration

Media Release:

The President today declared a major disaster exists in the State of Hawaii and ordered Federal aid to supplement State and local recovery efforts in the area struck by tsunami waves on March 11, 2011.

Federal funding is available to State and eligible local governments and certain private nonprofit organizations on a cost-sharing basis for emergency work and the repair or replacement of facilities damaged by the tsunami waves in Hawaii County, Maui County, and the City and County of Honolulu.

Federal funding is also available on a cost-sharing basis for hazard mitigation measures statewide.

W. Craig Fugate, Administrator, Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), Department of Homeland Security, named Michael L. Karl as the Federal Coordinating Officer for Federal recovery operations in the affected area.

FEMA said additional designations may be made at a later date if requested by the State and warranted by the results of further damage assessments.