Statewide agencies coordinating efforts if disaster strikes

Hawaii Emergency Management Agency

State and county agencies have been coordinating their efforts to be ready in case disaster strikes.

The different agencies need to make sure they can get the necessary supplies where they’re needed. They also need to figure out whether non-emergency workers should come in to work Thursday.

The state and city’s emergency management agencies have been meeting regularly to coordinate their disaster response plans. But FEMA, the Federal Emergency Management Agency, has also sent teams to the islands to provide back-up support and supplies.

“They provide resources which can include food, water, emergency power generation and tarps,” said Doug Mayne of the Hawaii Emergency Management Agency. “They can provide anything that we ask for. It’s a matter of us requesting the resource and then finding it.”

The National Guard is also on alert. They’ll be counted on to provide transportation to areas that are hard to reach because of the storm.

“Typically one of the first calls is for helicopters,” Mayne said. “We’re looking at providing damage assessment teams to support the counties.”

Federal agencies will provide support to the state, while the state serves as backup for the counties.

On Oahu, work has already begun to make sure the thousands of homeless people have somewhere to go.

“The homeless providers have been going out and notifying all the homeless that we need to be sheltering them safely,” said Peter Hirai of the city’s Dept. of Emergency Management. “We’re looking at several options as far as public sheltering for evacuation for the storm.”>

City, state and federal agencies will also need to decide whether to give non-emergency workers the day off on Thursday. That decision will be made by Wednesday.

“What we want to do is synchronize that with the state work force, so we don’t have any situations like the 1986 or 1994 tsunamis, where everybody was released at once and we created a traffic nightmare,” Hirai said.

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