City and State lawmakers hold informational meeting over disaster planning

By Lara Yamada
Published On: Nov 16 2012 07:17:39 PM HST
Updated On: Nov 20 2012 07:25:23 AM HST

Lawmakers want whole community approach to dealing with disasters, including tsunami-related ones.

HONOLULU -

"I will tell you it's been a very frustrating experience," said Aloha United Way COO Norm Baker.

He was one of several speakers on Friday, as emergency personnel, as well as non-profits, businesses and lawmakers gathered in the hopes of molding a bigger and better plan for dealing with disasters.

"It's just a matter of sitting down and agreeing on how it's going to happen," said Baker.

Civil defense already has about $16 million, two-thirds of what it needs in funds, to update sirens statewide.

A cell phone and satellite system has already begun replacing the older radio signal.

"It will make the sirens more reliable, number two, we'll know through feedback when the sirens go down so we can fix it immediately," Doug Mayne, Civil Defense Vice-Director.

And, starting early next year they'll begin replacing all 371 sirens, termite-eaten poles and all, then adding 146 more. 

He said they also plan on relying much more heavily on technology such as cell phones.

"I'd like to invite people here who want to learn to attend free," said Dave Kozuki, who is a consultant who trains first responders on using social media for emergencies.

The city web designers are also building an app that displays evacuation zones and the Honolulu Police Department is requiring its officers to use its online notification system "Nixle."

"We need to have what's called the whole community approach," said Honolulu Councilmember Nestor Garcia.

The federal government is already creating a system that will notify cell phone users, all at once, say, during a tsunami threat.

There was also an idea to work with taxi drivers to transport people to shelters and putting whether you're in an evacuation zone on your sewer bill.

On Dec. 7th, the public is invited to a forum at the Blaisdell to talk more about how to prepare for the next disaster.

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