Kaua’i braces for war

Harbor security patrols in the air and by sea continue with no changes, said a U.S. Coast Guard spokeswoman, as Kaua’i and the rest of Hawai’i brace for a pending war of unknown duration and intensity.

“We’re maintaining our high presence in the ports and harbors, we’re doing our patrols,” said Lt. Jackie Brunette, U.S. Coast Guard spokeswoman for District 14 (Hawai’i).

“We’ve got aircraft in the air, and we’re patrolling, just like we were earlier today,” she said Monday afternoon after President Bush announced that war was two days away if Iraq Pres. Saddam Hussein doesn’t step down.

Brunette would not discuss whether or not an orange terrorism threat level announced yesterday by Bush means an increased readiness on the part of the Coast Guard.

“I can tell you that we’re still maintaining our high presence out and around the ports and the harbors in the islands,” she said.

Under the homeland-security initiative, the Coast Guard’s job in Hawai’i is to ensure port and harbor security, she added.

“We’re going to continue our security presence in the ports and harbors, making sure that the port’s secure, that the people that live around the harbors are secure and safe,” she said.

“And we strongly recommend anyone that sees anything unusual or suspicious, definitely contact the Coast Guard right away, just like they would at any other time.

“So, we’re continuing to be out there. We’ve got a strong presence in the air and offshore,” said Brunette.

“We’ve been anticipating this junction for some time now,” said Mark Marshall, head of the Kaua’i Civil Defense Agency, just before joining a late-afternoon conference call yesterday with representatives of the state’s other Civil Defense leaders.

Sue Kanoho, executive director of the Kaua’i Visitors Bureau, is in Honolulu today reviewing various scenarios of the Hawai’i Tourism Authority’s contingency plans in the event of war with Iraq.

The KVB would like to limit the time spent going “dark,” or shutting down all advertising and marketing efforts, which is an HTA response in the event of “an intense war,” according to the HTA war-contingency plan.

“Our biggest concern is any U.S.-based terrorists attacks,” because response to such attacks while war rages will be very different than anything the HTA has prepared for in its war-contingency plan, she said.

Kanoho and other bureau leaders have been asked to clear their schedules to allow them to travel to promote tourism to the state and island, she said.

And since the U.S. West Coast produces the frequent Hawai’i and Kaua’i travelers who would be most likely to resume traveling after a short or long war, marketing, advertising and promotional efforts will be directed there first, she said.

“If something bad happens on Thursday, we’ll have to react to that,” she said of the potential first day of war.

As early as last month, the HTA had already designated a room at the Hawai’i Convention Center in Waikiki as its crisis communications center.

On the Web: HTA: http://www.hawaii.gov/tourism/

Staff Writer Paul C. Curtis can be reached at mailto:pcurtis@pulitzer.net or 245-3681 (ext. 224).

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