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Civil Defense Accountability Bill Following Hawai‘i False Missile Alert

Many folks in Hawai‘i were terrified following the false alert that a ballistic missile was inbound.  In response to that false alert sent out to Hawai‘i residents on Saturday, Jan. 13, 2018, Rep. Tulsi Gabbard today introduced the Civil Defense Accountability Act of 2018 to:

  • Address the vulnerabilities that allowed the false alert to go out to more than a million people across the state and go uncorrected for 38 minutes;
  • Ensure transparent investigations into the incident through online public disclosure requirements;
  • Establish best practices to strengthen state and national preparedness and disaster communications plans; and
  • Evaluate and strengthen preparedness nationwide to respond to biological, chemical, radiological, or nuclear attacks to the United States.

Reps. Colleen Hanabusa and Don Young are original cosponsors of the bipartisan legislation.

The Civil Defense Accountability Act of 2018 would require the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), Department of Defense (DoD), and Federal Communications Commission (FCC) to publicly disclose incident and recommendation reports about the Saturday, Jan. 13, false alert. It would also compel ballistic missile civil defense agencies to review the current notification protocols for ballistic missile threats and study the best practices regarding civil defense emergencies to prevent a similar catastrophic mistake. In addition, the bill would instruct the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) to publicly detail the ability of HHS and health care providers to respond to a biological, chemical, radiological, or nuclear weapons attack.

Rep. Gabbard said: “The false ballistic missile alert sent out across Hawai‘i corroded public trust and revealed gaps in preparedness measures at every level of government. Given the threats we face and the vulnerabilities that have been exposed, there are serious changes that need to take place at the federal, state, and local levels to ensure this kind of colossal failure never happens again. Along with providing Hawaii’s people with timely answers into what went wrong and why, we also need to investigate the gaps that exist at home and across the country that could trigger or perpetuate future emergencies. Our legislation will ensure the lessons learned from Hawaii’s false alert are used to identify and fix preparedness gaps nationwide.”

“Last month, Hawaiians experienced a terrifying false ballistic missile alert which is unacceptable,” said Congressman Young. “The chaos and uncertainty throughout that situation should not happen again which is why I’m proud to be a cosponsor of this legislation. By addressing the conditions that caused this false alarm to happen in the first place, we can establish and improve best practices for our civil defense operations. This bill will improve public outreach when real emergencies take place which is crucial for restoring people’s trust in their government’s readiness and commitment to public safety.”

“This legislation is an important part of rebuilding the public’s trust in government,” said Congresswoman Hanabusa. “One of our basic responsibilities is to provide public safety, especially in a moment of crisis. The morning of January 13th revealed an unfortunate array of issues within the Hawai‘i Emergency Management Agency (HI-EMA), the protocols and policies that govern the issuance of a ballistic missile alert and the community’s preparation and response. In the weeks since the false alarm, we have heard confusing, often conflicting accounts from state officials about what went wrong and who is responsible. The public deserves a transparent, accurate accounting, like the one recently completed by the Federal Communications Commission (FCC), so we can make corrections and move forward. This incident also highlighted the need to review HI-EMA’s Attack Warning Signal system and our community response plan in the event of a biological, chemical, radiological or nuclear attack. Mahalo to Congresswoman Gabbard and Congressman Young for their bipartisan efforts to help restore the community’s faith in government and ensure we are better prepared.”

Background: The Civil Defense Accountability Act of 2018 would:

  • Assess Current Reporting Procedures: Within 90 days, the Secretary of Defense, in coordination with the Secretary of Homeland Security and the Director of Federal Communications Commission, is required to submit a report to Congress regarding the current notification protocols for ballistic missile threats. This report will assess the notification protocols required under Federal Law or regulations of federal and state entities and the communications between these entities, after a ballistic missile threat is identified, during a ballistic missile threat, and regarding ballistic missile impact warnings.
  • Establish Best Practices: Within 180 days of enactment, the Secretary of Homeland Security, acting through FEMA, is required to conduct a study to identify the best practices regarding civil defense emergencies. This study will identify plans for local, state, and federal communications before, during, and after a civil defense emergency. In addition, the study will include plans for State communication with residents and local and State security and contingency plans. The initial study shall include no fewer than 13 states, including Hawaii, Alaska, California, Washington, and five states bordering an ocean including the Gulf of Mexico. Within 180 days of enactment, the Secretary of State will also submit a report to Congress regarding the 13 state study including deficiency trends, best practices, and plans to improve public outreach regarding civil defense emergencies. The unclassified portions of this report will be disseminated to states within 270 days.
  • Evaluate Federal Response: Within 60 days of enactment, the Secretary of Defense, the Administrator of FEMA, and the Director of the FCC will provide to Congress and publish an online report detailing their agencies’ actions during the ballistic missile false alarm in Hawai‘i. The report will also detail corrective actions and recommendations to prevent future false alarms.
  • Strengthen Public Health Preparedness: Within 180 days, the Secretary of Health and Human Services, through the Office of the Assistant Secretary of for Preparedness and Response, will submit a report to Congress and publish an online report regarding the ability of HHS and health care providers to respond to biological, chemical, radiological, or nuclear weapons attacks on the U.S. The Secretary is also required to submit recommendations to Congress and develop a public outreach program in coordination with local and State entities using these recommendations. The Secretary of Health and Human Services will also take into consideration the recommendations in the report when issuing grants under the Public Health Emergency Preparedness cooperative agreement and the Hospital Preparedness program.

BILL SUMMARY:

Section 1 – Short Title “Civil Defense Accountability Act of 2018”

Section 2 – Findings: Findings note the traumatizing false missile alert sent to individuals, residents, and visitors in Hawai‘i on January 13; the President’s National Security Strategy that highlights a growing nuclear threat posed by North Korea; the re-implementation of monthly outdoor warning siren system tests in Hawai‘i; a HI-EMA launch-to-landing ballistic missile estimation from North Korea to Hawai‘i; and a Missile Defense Agency assessment that sophisticated ballistic missile technology is widely available to adversary nations of U.S. and its allies.

Section 3 – Report Regarding Current Ballistic Missile Notification Protocols: Within 90 days, the Secretary of Defense, in coordination with the Secretary of Homeland Security and the Director of Federal Communications Commission, is required to submit a report to Congress regarding the current notification protocols for ballistic missile threats. This report will assess the notification protocols required under Federal Law or regulations to federal and state entities and the communications between these entities, after a ballistic missile threat is identified, during a ballistic missile threat, and regarding ballistic missile impact warnings.

Section 4 – Civil Defense Emergency Best Practices: Within 180 days of enactment, the Secretary of Homeland Security, acting through FEMA, is required to conduct a study to identify the best practices regarding civil defense emergencies. This study will identify plans for local, state, and federal communications before, during, and after a civil defense emergency. In addition, the study will include plans for State communication with residents and local and State security and contingency plans. The initial study shall include no fewer than 13 states, including Hawai‘i, Alaska, California, Washington, and five states bordering an ocean including the Gulf of Mexico. Within 180 days of enactment, the Secretary of State will also submit a report to Congress regarding the 13 state study including deficiency trends, best practices, and plans to improve public outreach regarding civil defense emergencies. The unclassified portions of this report will be disseminated to states within 270 days.

Section 5- Incident Report Regarding Ballistic Missile False Alarm: Within 60 days of enactment, the Secretary of Defense, the Administrator of FEMA, and the Director of the FCC will provide to Congress and publish an online report detailing their agencies’ actions during the January 13 ballistic missile false alarm in Hawai‘i. The report will also detail corrective actions and recommendations to prevent future false alarms.

Section 6 – Public Health Recommendations: Within 180 days, the Secretary of Health and Human Services, through the Office of the Assistant Secretary of for Preparedness and Response, will submit a report to Congress and publish an online report regarding the ability of HHS and health care providers to respond to biological, chemical, radiological, or nuclear weapons attacks on the U.S. The Secretary is also required to submit recommendations to Congress and develop a public outreach program in coordination with local and State entities using these recommendations. The Secretary of Health and Human Services will also take into consideration the recommendations in the report when issuing grants under the Public Health Emergency Preparedness cooperative agreement and the Hospital Preparedness program.

High Wind and High Surf Warning

The National Weather Service has issued a High Wind Warning and Advisory for Hawai‘i Island for Thursday, Jan. 18, through tomorrow night Friday, Jan. 19, 2018.

A High Wind Warning means maximum sustained winds of up to 40 mph with higher gusts and locally damaging winds. The highest winds are expected to occur in the district of Kohala. Hāmakua, Hilo, Puna, Ka‘ū and the summit areas may also experience high winds.

Due to the warning and advisory, the following are issued:

  • Owners of small boats and aircraft should take measures to secure their crafts.
  • Exercise extreme caution with all coastal and ocean activities as winds will generate rough and choppy conditions.
  • Residents and property owners should take action to secure loose outdoor objects before winds increase.
  • If you have outdoor plans today, be prepared for very windy conditions.
  • As in all high wind conditions, do expect possibility of power, phone, and internet interruptions
  • Motorists should be on the alert for debris on the roadways caused by the winds.

In addition, the National Weather Service has issued a High Surf Advisory for the shorelines of Kohala, Hāmakua, Hilo, Puna and Ka‘ū.

A High Surf Advisory means there is a threat to life and property from the surf. Oceanfront residents, all ocean activities, and beachgoers are advised to be on the alert for possible strong currents and breaking waves.

You are urged to take precautions to prepare for these conditions.

Gov. Ige Statement on Today’s False Alarm

Hawai‘i Gov. Ige released the following statement after meetings and debriefings with leaders at the Department of Defense and Hawai‘i Emergency Management after today’s false alarm to an incoming ballistic missile:

Today is a day most of us will never forget. A terrifying day when our worst nightmares appeared to become a reality. A day where we frantically grabbed what we could, tried to figure out how and where to shelter and protect ourselves and our ‘ohana, said our “I love yous,” and prayed for peace.

I know firsthand how today’s false notification affected all of us here in Hawai‘i, and I am sorry for the pain and confusion it caused. I, too, am extremely upset about this and am doing everything I can to immediately improve our emergency management systems, procedures and staffing.

I have spent the morning with Gen. Logan, Hi-EMA Administrator Vern Miayagi and their teams and have directed that they make immediate changes. We are doing everything we possibly can to prevent this from happening again.

I encourage all of us to take stock, determine what we all can do better to be prepared in the future – as a state, county and in our own households. We must also do what we can to demand peace and a de-escalation with North Korea, so that warnings and sirens can become a thing of the past.

Governor David Ige

New Civil Defense Siren to Be Tested on Thursday

The civil defense siren in Hakalau (Highway 19, north of mile marker 15 and Chin Chuck Road), North Hilo District, will be tested on Thursday February 14, 2013, between 8:00 a.m. to 11:00 a.m.

The new Hakalau siren

The new Hakalau siren

Residents in this area may hear the siren sound for 30 seconds during the identified time period. Technicians will use data gathered from this tests to verify operational status and complete maintenance actions.

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, Friday, March 1, 2013, at 11:45 a.m.

Hawaii Island residents may call Hawaii County Civil Defense at 808-935-0031 if they have any questions or concerns regarding this test of the Statewide Outdoor Siren Warning System.

 

 

Deja Vous… Deja Vous

Hawaii Tribune:

Published: Tuesday, July 14, 2009 9:58 AM HST

…The service is free to the county, but standard text message charges apply to those who sign up.

Mento said the service will be primarily offered to vacationers who may be less likely to tune in to local radio stations for emergency information, and even less likely to be signed up for City Watch.

The county is licensed by Talisman to use the system without charge. Visit talismanlbs.net, or send a text message from your phone with the words “JOIN HCCD” to 32862 to sign up…”

Then I started thinking… gee this sounds mighty familiar…

Posted on March 16, 2009 by Damon Tucker

…The service is free although users will incur normal text messaging charges. However the number and type of messages received from Civil Defense can be controlled by users at any time after signing up.

Civil Defense Administrator Quince said primarily the service will be offered to vacationers who may be less likely to tune in to local radio stations for emergency information, and even less likely to be signed up for City Watch, a telephone voice message Civil Defense emergency notification system.

“We will be asking the hotels to provide their guests with information about Talisman which can help them be aware of potentially dangerous situations while they’re on the island,” Mento said.

Civil Defense now issues alerts via local radio stations and City Watch.

The Talisman system is a complementary notification system that provides added flexibility and coverage to the Civil Defense notification network. “It’s another layer of awareness,” Mento said.

The County is licensed by Talisman to use the system without charge. Anyone wishing to use the service must sign up. Visit www.talismanlbs.net, or simply send a text message from your phone with the words “JOIN HCCD” to 32862…

With full disclosure here… as with my previous post on March 16th, my information came from a press release… and I disclosed that.

Why won’t newspapers disclose their news that they print as rehashed Press Releases?

Civil Defense Installs Talisman Emergency Notification System… Sounds Like Something Like Twitter

Media Release:

When wild fires, floods, earthquakes or any natural calamity affect the Big Island, people need to know quickly how to react, and the Hawaii County Civil Defense has a new way of notifying residents and visitors of emergency situations.

The Civil Defense agency has signed on with Honolulu-based Talisman LBS to send text messages to the cell phone of anyone who requests the service whenever there is emergency information to transmit.

The service is free although users will incur normal text messaging charges. However the number and type of messages received from Civil Defense can be controlled by users at any time after signing up.

Civil Defense Administrator Quince said primarily the service will be offered to vacationers who may be less likely to tune in to local radio stations for emergency information, and even less likely to be signed up for City Watch, a telephone voice message Civil Defense emergency notification system.

“We will be asking the hotels to provide their guests with information about Talisman which can help them be aware of potentially dangerous situations while they’re on the island,” Mento said.

Civil Defense now issues alerts via local radio stations and City Watch.

The Talisman system is a complementary notification system that provides added flexibility and coverage to the Civil Defense notification network. “It’s another layer of awareness,” Mento said.

The County is licensed by Talisman to use the system without charge. Anyone wishing to use the service must sign up. Visit www.talismanlbs.net, or simply send a text message from your phone with the words “JOIN HCCD” to 32862

Waikoloa Floods… WHERE is Our Civil Defense?

I just blogged earlier today about the Big Islands $40,000 Civil Defense phone plan that Australia is adopting… where was the Civil Defense plan tonight?

The Waikoloa area of the Big Island is getting hit hard with rains.

Our own county civil defense on the Big Island has given no warning that I can find.

The message on their current site is still from the October flooding.

I noticed a Tweet from KWXX that state the following:

All roads that were closed due to flooding in West Hawaii are open! NWS says we may have same weather again 2morrow.

Of course you also won’t read anything about this until tomorrow in the local papers.

The best coverage that I’m sure we will see of this is online over at Hawaii24/7 where he has posted video and pictures of the flooding.

WHERE is our civil defense warnings? Oahu gets them when impending rains may create flooding situations.