Warning sirens again terrorize Windward Oahu, prompt HI-EMA review, apology
News Release from Office of Rep Cynthia Thielen, March 29, 2018
Two months after Hawaii and visitors suffered the false ballistic-missile threat heard around the globe, parts of Kailua, population 8,000 not counting visitors, yesterday experienced fear of death again, when the Hawaii Emergency Management Agency tested one or more sirens – for three hours – without issuing adequate notification.
Called by scared, confused and outraged constituents, Representative Cynthia Thielen contacted HI-EMA Administrator Thomas Travis, who initially told her that the advance public-outreach efforts his agency took were all that were required or that could be done.
The efforts did not include any:
· cell-phone notifications
· communication with Honolulu Department of Emergency Management (DEM)
· online information-systems notices coordinated by DEM.
To prevent this scare from re-occurring on Oahu and statewide to any of Hawaii's 1.5 million residents plus visitors, Thielen hand-delivered a frank communication to Gov. David Ige, alerting him to the unacceptable operation. Soon after, Travis contacted Thielen's office, recognizing the "error," and stating that a review of HI-EMA protocol and steps is underway.
"In light of the world's biggest false-missile threat just 10 weeks ago at the hands of HI-EMA – and its guarantee that nothing like that would happen again – why didn't the agency learn its lesson?," Thielen said. "The frightened included elementary-school students, who didn't know whether they were getting bombed or hit with a tsunami. The scars of repeated trauma involving death scenarios cannot be underscored."
From HI-EMA: "Please accept HI-EMA’s apology for the concern and confusion that resulted from our inadequate notice," Travis stated. "I am taking steps to ensure the mistake will not be repeated and, as we discussed, I am reviewing what additional steps we should take."
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HI-EMA and News Media Fail to Inform Public of Oahu Emergency Siren Test
by Christine Gralow, MeanwhileInHawaii, 3/29/2018
Kailua, HI - Just twelve days after announcing its new administrator and ten weeks after terrifying the public with a false nuclear missile alert, the Hawai'i Emergency Management Agency confused residents and tourists in Windward O'ahu with an off-schedule emergency siren test at Kailua's Kalama Beach Park yesterday.
Most Hawai'i-based news organizations that received a HI-EMA press release about the siren test also failed to publish the information online before HI-EMA began testing the siren at approximately 9:00 a.m. yesterday.
HI-EMA Public Information Officer Richard Rapoza emailed a press release regarding yesterday's Kalama Beach siren testing to Hawai'i's mainstream news organizations at 2:58 p.m. Tuesday. The press release was not posted on HI-EMA's website.
KHON2 was the only news organization to post an article that was accessible to the public online before the siren testing began. The Honolulu Star-Advertiser did not publish the information until more than one hour after HI-EMA began testing the siren. No other news organization published information about the testing that was publicly accessible via online search engines.
"We probably should have done more," said Honolulu Star-Advertiser City Desk Editor David Butts, after hearing concerns about the community's experience.
Butts said he lives near Kalama Beach Park, and his wife contacted him at work at 10:20 a.m. yesterday, confused about why she was repeatedly hearing an emergency siren sounding at the end of the month. Her confusion was shared locally by mail carriers, students, teachers, and tourists, who said they had not heard news of the testing in advance. HI-EMA typically conducts siren testing at the beginning of each month….
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