Monday, Sept. 25, 2023 |
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How prepared are we? That’s the question Kaua‘i County needs to be asking itself.
Second guessing the actions of government “post-disaster” is unavoidable, natural and necessary — but the time to plan for us is now, before the worst case scenario actually happens.
Without a doubt our mayor and our county council are asking this question of our Kaua‘i Fire Department and of the Kaua‘i Emergency Management Agency (KEMA).
Hopefully, there are contingency plans for similar wildfires that could occur here, particularly on Kaua‘i’s south and west sides.
Hopefully, Kaua‘i Island Utility Cooperative (KIUC) has a plan in place in case power poles go down in high winds and dry grass.
Hopefully, there are evacuation plans in place that don’t just depend on cellphones and FaceBook to get the word out.
Hopefully, our council and mayor don’t just rely on hope, faith and optimism, but instead demand to see the plans and then agree to provide the support and funding needed for the necessary infrastructure (both physical and personnel).
It’s only a matter of time when another major disaster will strike our own shores again.
Global warming is real. Without question, we collectively are in the early stages of a climate disaster — globally.
Perhaps it may come via wildfire, but historically high ocean temperatures will drive the wind and rains of our next hurricane — to levels never seen before.
We have many old earthen dams that are under-maintained, under-inspected, and sitting uphill from residential areas.
We know clearly the destruction that accompanies flash flooding.
What’s the plan when the Wailua bridge is destroyed by major storm flooding? How do residents living on the east and north shores receive emergency medical care or simply regular life sustaining care?
We are long overdue for a major tsunami.
How much food is on hand if a tsunami takes out our harbors, or some other major event prevents the barges from coming?
Why do we continue to allow major development in the tsunami and stream flood zones?
Are our firefighters adequately trained, do they have the equipment needed, and is the required staffing at 100 percent? Ditto with the KEMA.
Why are landowners not held responsible for maintaining their property to minimize the likelihood of wildfires?
Is there a “toxic chemical map” showing where toxic chemicals sold in our community are used and stored?
Why are we given nothing but excuses tied to limited funding when inquiring about dam safety?
Is the water pressure and availability needed for fighting a major fire sufficient in all areas where residents and visitors reside?
Why do we not require the under-grounding of power lines, especially in sensitive areas?
Do we have maps and special plans in place to handle the evacuation of those in long-term care and assisted living facilities? What about our preschools, those with special needs and the houseless?
The answer to minimize the risks: Proactive planning based on real world experience supported by the equipment and people necessary to lead us through our own next disaster.
Hopefully, those responsible for managing our disaster response efforts have those answers and plans, and/or are working “as we speak” to come up with those answers and plans (which no doubt is an ongoing process). And, hopefully, our elected leaders are also seeking answers and offering the necessary support.
Gary Hooser served eight years in the state Senate, where he was majority leader. He also served for eight years on the Kaua‘i County Counci. He presently writes on Hawaii Policy and Politics at www.garyhooser.blog.
Mr. Hooser, just look at Coco Plalms that will tell you the sincerity of county government,
Patricck Flores, Nampa, ID
Aloha Gary, mahalo for your good advice; and don’t forget the Police Dept., wherein during any type of disaster their Police Car Sirens can be remotes roving Emergency Sirens. Sirens during emergencies loudly indicate something is wrong, and should encourage everyone to go outside, and look, listen, and ask around what is the emergency. Any and all Sirens are a signal to PAY ATTENTION Danger is imminent, warn others, don’t stop till you know what’s the danger, safely evacuate yourself instructing others along the way to safety. Bullhorns should be in every Police Car and Fire Dept vehicles, waking and warning night sleeping or day napping potential victims. Floods, Tsunami, land and mud slides, Hurricane, massive surf, high winds, flash flooding, loud warnings and evacuation routes go a long way in saving lives.
It is still appropriate to thank all involved with Kauai Electric and Citizen Utilities during Iniki,for shutting down the power before the majority of power poles blew over. Not a single fire, not a single death from Iniki was attributed to the storm and its effects. Mahalo to the Men and Women of our then electric company. It’sclear they saved lives shutting off the power early.
A subsequent disaster was allowing insurance companies to take 2 years and more to settle claims. Coco Palms. as reported in the Garden Island, their contractor(s) claimed $27 million for repair, their insurance company offered $7 Million, only about 25% payment for damages…many others got only 50%, still dealing with runpaid repairs 31 years later.
Government should protect people from the financial afterMATH damages. Mahalo, Zeke.
“Global warming is real. Without question, we collectively are in the early stages of a climate disaster — globally.”
Enough with this fraudulent lie, Gary. There is no climate crisis. You and the others that are riding this fraud don’t have the slightest notion or comprehension of geologic and universal processes that are infinitely beyond the ability of we humans to change. If you did you would take the opportunity to quit flapping your tongue hoping to incite fear in people for the sole purpose of aggrandizing government power over us.
The Maui tragedy lies right at the feet of government (local, state and federal) incompetence and an abject failure to carry out the most fundamental responsibilities. Not only that, but blocking and punishing the efforts of some in the private sector to cull the brush and grasses in the name of “saving the environment”. Instead laying blame on the nonexistent problem of global warming (you seem to miss that the hacks now call it climate change, Gary)
Thank you so much, Gary, for asking the questions and pointing out all of these issues and areas that need attention, planning and action. Maui is a painful and illuminating experience for all of us, on Kauai and beyond as these wildfires and other natural disasters appear to be increasing all over our world. Be Prepared! and Malama Aina! are good ole mottos that can serve us well now. I would love to view receive regular updates on what the County of Kauai is doing regarding all of the lessons from Maui while we all still keep donating to Maui.
Mahalo nui loa to Bridget Hammerquist for her grounded, legal wisdom and awareness about wildfires and dam issues on the south shore.
Nice letter Gary. I think Kauai needs to think about where the money is going. Those are the people doing the work. KFD included. So pay them what they do. Fight fire.
Thank you Gary- Yes Kaua’i needs to learn from Maui’s painful situation. Need to work with Grove Farm to assure they take steps to minimize dry guinni grass and promote farming along Ala Kinoiki road to decrease fire risks in Poipu!!!! Also Bring back Kong Radio as our civil defense Radio. Kong radio did a great job for communicating during the last 2 hurricanes!!!
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