LIHUE — Gov. David Ige and Brigadier General Kenneth Hara on Tuesday released the All Hazards Preparedness Improvement Action Plan and Report, designed to review current emergency response systems, including notifications and warnings, and make recommendations for improvement.
“We are moving forward with a strategic vision that enables emergency managers in Hawaii to identify gaps and vulnerabilities for handling all hazards,” Ige said.
The governor plans to ask the Legislature for more than $2 million to build capacity for the safety and security of the people of Hawaii.
“The report is written by and prepared as a road map for emergency management planners,” Hara said. “It could be used as a guide to help reshape how emergency management is organized and how resources are prioritized and allocated to respond to any hazard efficiently and effectively.”
Since a missile attack is an act of war, collaboration with the federal government is essential.
“The report identifies a breakdown in leadership and management at the Hawaii Emergency Management Agency, and we are actively seeking a new administrator who will build the team that will implement the recommendations in this report,” Ige said.
A false alert was sent Jan. 13 by the Hawaii Emergency Management Agency when an employee mistakenly believed an attack was occurring. State officials said on social media they are implementing a new procedure, requiring two people to sign off on sending an alert.
“When I saw the text message alert, I waited for the siren to go off and turned to the emergency television station,” said State Rep. Daynette Morikawa. “Seeing no other alerts, I questioned the integrity of the text.”
“Those long minutes of stress for many people were uncalled for but made many of us realize how unprepared we were,” Morikawa said. “The governor now has an All-Hazards Preparedness Improvement Action Plan that will need to address sheltering, county coordination, public communication methods, food storage, electrical grids, fuel and water sources, and dealing with chemical, biological, radiological and nuclear threats. In any disaster preparedness, we must all get involved.”
Ige said the state is entering “uncharted territory.”
“We are using this experience to vastly improve our strategic planning and disaster preparedness,” he said. “As we take the action steps described in this report, we will become a stronger, more resilient community.”
Key points in the plan
w Focuses on preparations for any disaster, not only ballistic missile threats
w Identifies the need to prepare a Strategic Plan for Hawaiʻi Emergency Management Agency (HI-EMA) and update the All Hazards Catastrophic Plan to include a Chemical, Biological, Radiological and Nuclear Annex
w Recommends including all emergency management stakeholders in the planning process to address gaps and vulnerabilities that exist today
w Confirms and agrees with Gen. Oliveira’s findings from the investigative report
Other key details include
w A complete comprehensive annex or plan to address the Ballistic Missile Preparedness threats had not been fully developed prior to commencement of missile alert siren testing and internal missile alert drills, nor had a risk assessment been conducted.
w There is a misconception that Gov. Ige and other elected officials are primarily responsible for timely warning and notification. The responsibility to identify requirements for the existing alert system and rapid notification remained with HI-EMA.
w The State Warning Point’s established Ballistic Missile Alert Checklist did not have a step to notify the HI-EMA Public Information Officer (PIO). The missing key step to notify the PIO contributed to the delay in rapidly informing the media and public.
w Observations point to the improper management of HI-EMA. HI-EMA senior leadership lacked awareness of personnel issues within the SWP.
Key observations and recommendations include
w Conduct comprehensive review and assessment of organizational roles and performance
w Make needed improvements in technological capabilities
w Enforce current statutes and executive orders dealing with emergency management
w Develop and deliver training and education programs for the public, government leaders, and EM employees
Based on this roadmap, Gov. Ige is
w Enhancing our strategic capabilities to respond and recover from any hazard
w Building and putting capacity into place; this includes asking the Legislature for funding
w Placing renewed emphasis on individual, family and community preparedness
County and state emergency management agencies have been working collaboratively in areas relating to the missile threat. Education and outreach is underway through circulation of multimedia information, public service announcements and live presentations to community organizations, government partners and the private sector.
“The State of Hawaii had recognized the need to plan and prepare for ballistic missile type events, particularly as North Korea’s testing became increasingly successful,” said Elton Ushio ,emergency management administrator of the Kauai Emergency Management Agency.
An announcement on emergency preparedness presented by Mayor Bernard Carvalho Jr. is also scheduled to broadcast on Ho’ike Kauai community television.
“The warning and notification systems and the advice that emergency management gives out about all-hazards preparedness have pretty much remained consistent for decades. It’s good advice that should be followed,” Ushio said.
In the event of a nuclear detonation, the Hawaii State Department of Defense’s guidance summary recommends people get indoors, stay inside, and stayed tuned to local radio. Two weeks supply of food is suggested in the case of a real missile attack.
“You take away emotion and the stress from that incident, it all comes back to each person, each family,” Ushio said. “Really they owe it to themselves and their loved ones to be informed and aware.”