Disaster Management of Hawaii

2017_philus_hawaiiHawaii is the 50th state of the United States of America. Hawaii is the state located in the Pacific and in the form of islands. The state in form of islands consists of Ni’ihau, Kaua’i, O’ahu, Moloka’i, Kaho’olawe, Maui, and Hawaii. Hawaii is the biggest island in the state. But the most populated island is in O’ahu Island or called as ‘Gathering Place.’

We may imagine Hawaii as its beauty of Waikiki beach in O’ahu. Hawaii which is famous for one of the tourist destination is in great demand by tourists from all over the world. In the past, the average daily number of tourist up to 200.000 people. Tourism sector contributes the highest revenue compared to other industrial sectors. But do we know, Hawaii has various potential hazards that can lead to disaster.

Hazard Profile

As what experience in Indonesia, behind beautiful scenes of nature, the state of Hawaii has potential hazards due to natural, non-natural and human factors. There are 19 potential hazards identified that are possible threat with different category from low to high.

Local authority considers that the potential hazard of drought and terrorist attack with weapon of mass destruction is low risk category. Landslide, influenza pandemic and forest fire are in medium category. Meanwhile, high risk category of potential hazard are typhoon, tsunami and earthquake. As an example, when an earthquake occurred in Aleut Island in 1946, Hawaii island was affected by the tremor. The earthquake with magnitude 7.8 triggered tsunami until Hawaii and killed 159 people. Tsunami stroke Kaua’I island within 4,5 hours after the earthquake, while Hilo in Hawaii island in 4,9 hours.

As well as in 1960, at the same place, Hilo, local community in the city were affected by tsunami. At this time, tsunami was triggered by an earthquake in Chile on May 22, 1960. The earthquake with magnitude 9,5 which located thousand kilometers was not escaped from the tsunami. More than 60 people were killed and 200 injured.

Even though in the middle of Pacific, Hawaii island is lucky. Each year, several typhoons are detected in Pacific, Hawaii is avoided from deadly hazard. Nevertheless, it has been recorded two strong typhoons hit Hawaii, i.e. Iniki (1992) and Iselle (2014).

Iniki was the strongest typhoon ever recorded in Hawaii. Whirlwind formed since 5 September 1992 then formed tropical storm category 4 on September 8, 1992. Three days later, the typhoon hit Kaua’I with speed 233 km per hour. More than 30.000 people were evacuated by the local authority to shelter, whereas six people killed due to storm surge hit Iniki.

Hurricane Iselle was also strong wind ever recorded by the local authority. The hurricane category 4 was very destructive, especially when hit land or landfall. When the hurricane took place, the torrential rain fell and caused power outages, uprooted trees, damage to agriculture and plantations. Despite the destructive hurricane, one person was killed as a result of the hurricane Iselle.

Disaster Management Agency

Disaster management at the state level is responsibility of local governor. Based on structural order, the governor of Hawaii is supported by the State of Hawaii Department of Defense. The issue of the disaster is under this department since the terrorist attacks of 11 September 2001. Meanwhile, the leading agency is the Hawaii Emergency Management Agency (HI-EMA), which is responsible directly to the Director of Disaster Management, while the government agencies in the state of supporting the work in the response disaster, including Hawaii Army National Guard, Hawaii Air National Guard, Homeland Security Office, Office of Veterans Services and HING Youth Challenge Program.

Based on the structure of HI-EMA, the structure is simple. Director or Chief of HI-EMA is assisted by an administrator and executive officer, whereas on technical structure, four supporting parts are in operation such as training unit, education and information, planning and operation unit, telecommunication and support unit.

As disaster occur, emergency response will be conducted in stages by the agency at county, state until federal level, such as in Indonesia. As the disaster occur, county will response by deploying local resource and its emergency operation center. If the scale of the disaster needs to get support from higher levels, the county level can request support from state level. However, if the governor has declared the state disaster status, it may request assistance for federal support. Supports can take the form of funds or cost sharing, personnel, resources and other support across sectors.

In term of disaster management procedure, government responsibility at county which was led by HI-EMA covers as follow.

  • Warn and evacuate local residents
  • Conduct emergency response
  • Conduct rapid assessment to determine the operational needs
  • Declare emergency status
  • Centralize coordination among lines agencies
  • Assess damages
  • Propose support request

If the local government can not afford the emergency response, the state government shall provide support in the form:

  • Respond to relief aid
  • Activate emergency operation center
  • Apply authority of the state, such as declaring emergency status in accordance with conditions, mobilizing national guard, mobilizing resources across the line agencies.
  • Coordinate reliefs
  • State support request of the state government.

Coordination function is very powerful when the state government to intervene in disaster management at the county level. The government will send an Incident Management Assistance Team (IMAT), Joint Field Office (JFO), and Emergency Support Functions (ESF). Various things to be a function in emergency response and under the coordination of EFS, such as transport, communications, logistics management, public health and medical services, public safety, recovery and search and rescue.

Early Warning

Local authority is very concerned towards public safety with early warning facilities. One of the main reasons that the state has become a tourist destination of the whole world. Safety of people and tourists is a priority in the development of early warning.

Currently, HI-EMA has some early-warning mechanism for the community. Easy access with multi-language message into consideration in the early warning mechanism. Early warning covers as follow.

  • Early warning through radio and television
  • Early warning siren, not only for tsunami but all hazards,
  • Alert by wireless system, connected with
  • sending message
  • Broadcasting alert to public

In the early warning system through the radio, the state government is working with various radio stations located in each island. As KQNG 93.5 FM on the island of Kaua’i, KRTR KSSK 92.3 FM and 96.3 FM in Oahu, Maui KMVI at 550 AM and 97.9 FM KKBG in Hawai’i. In addition there are several radio stations that provide 16 foreign languages, Japanese, Korean, Spanish, Laos, Samoa, Tagalog, Vietnamese and so on. Stations broadcast provider in the foreign language is KZOO, Krea, and KNDI.


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