State emergency management gets new name, key updates

Hawaii’s State Civil Defense is no more, as far as its name is concerned.

Gov. Neil Abercrombie signed Friday House Bill 849 (Act 111), a measure that updates the state’s emergency management statutes, some of which were more than 60 years old and focused on nuclear attacks and civil unrest.

“Because we have a great team of people, both volunteer and professional engaged, our capacity and ability to be able to meet whatever contingencies come with that disaster are going to be tremendously enhanced,” Abercrombie said.

Among the updates is renaming State Civil Defense to Hawaii Emergency Management Agency. Hawaii was the last state in the country to retain the use of “civil defense.”

Act 111 also clarifies the relationship between state and county emergency management and gives county mayors emergency authorities independent of the state.

Other changes include establishing an Emergency Reserve Corps and authorizing the 24/7 State Warning Point.

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