How government agencies, organizations prepare for disaster

Unfortunately, hurricanes have and will hit the Hawaiian islands. When that happens, is our state ready and how can private business step up to help?

KHON2 spoke with State Civil Defense to find out what we have in place right now as far as supplies, resources and contingency plans.

Vice director Doug Mayne showed me an undisclosed location that contained supplies and stockpiles of food, water, generators, propane and tools like shovels and chainsaws.

“We have a limited supply, not only the state but the (federal side),” Mayne said. “We have a limited supply of on-island resources. That’s why it’s absolutely critical that whoever can (should) build a seven-day supply of food and water, that includes pet food.”

In times of disaster, government agencies will be busy restoring airports and harbors, clearing streets, restoring power and water.

“We know that there will be shortages of all kinds — food, water, electricity,” Mayne said.

The American Red Cross Hawaii Chapter showed me its stockpile. What was once an ammunition storage bunker in Diamond Head now holds tents, water and food.

American Red Cross emergency bunker, Diamond Head
American Red Cross emergency bunker, Diamond Head

But it may not be able to reach everyone immediately after a devastating storm.

“We have a really limited supply,” said Coralie Chun Matayoshi, Hawaii Red Cross CEO. “We have about 9,000 cots, FEMA (Federal Emergency Management Agency) has a few more. We have some generators and some blankets and things, but the main thing to emphasize is that we do not have enough for everyone.”

A major hurricane landfall will require that the government, non-profits and communities come together and pool resources and equipment.

That the goal of Hawaii Hazards Awareness and Resilience Program (HHARP), a locally developed network that identifies risk and resources of community groups.

“It can be a local community like Waimanalo,” Mayne said. “It can be a condominium complex. It can be a neighborhood. It can be a business.”

HHARP helps groups of people develop emergency plans, improve preparedness, and identify skills or resources that may be useful before, during or after a hurricane. It’s a collaborative partnership between Hawaii State Civil Defense and the Pacific Disaster Center and offered statewide at no cost.

Related Link: Hawaii Hazards Awareness and Resilience Program

After a hurricane hits, Mayne said, “what we really need from businesses is to resume operations as quickly as possible. We need business to get back open. We need information from business about what they need in order to get back open. If they have resources available, we would like to know what.”

According to Mayne, it’s important for businesses and community groups to pool together, open their doors and resume day-to-day operations.

Equally important, is to provide help through equipment and human resources when there will be scarcity in both.

“We’ve had five major almost disasters in the past five years — Hurricane Flossie and Felicia and the three tsunami scares — so it is going to happen,” Matayoshi said.

While government agencies can provide help and will, the ultimate responsibility lies within ourselves to be prepared.

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Get more emergency apps from American Red Cross here.

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