NOTE: We will be providing the public testimony shared at this meeting in a subsequent story.
(BIVN) – State and county emergency management officials rehashed the recent, harrowing false missile alarm during a council committee meeting on Tuesday.
The Hawai‘i County Council Committee On Public Safety & Mass Transit was convened at the West Hawaii Civic Center in Kealakehe, while Mayor Harry Kim, Hawai‘i County Civil Defense administrator Talmadge Magno, and Hawai‘i Police Chief Paul Ferreira participated from the Hilo council chambers.
Council Chairwoman Valerie Poindexter brought forward the requests to debrief and discuss the false “ballistic missile threat inbound to Hawaii” message that was issued via the emergency alert system on January 13. The mistaken message was sent due to an error by an employee of the State Of Hawai‘i Emergency Management Agency.
Richard Rapoza, a spokesman for the Hawaii Emergency Management Agency, joined in the council discussion via telephone.
Heavily criticized for the traumatic gaffe, Governor David Ige signed an Executive Order appointing Brigadier General Kenneth Hara, the Deputy Adjutant General, to oversee a comprehensive review of the state’s emergency management enterprise and to immediately implement needed changes.
During the Tuesday’s meeting, councilmembers and administration officials both spoke highly of and recommended a pair of recently-aired Na Leo TV programs: One episode featuring a Civil Defense talk regarding preparedness for a nuclear attack, and another featuring an hour-long interview with Mayor Harry Kim and Civil Defense Administrator Talmadge Magno conducted after the January 13 fiasco.
Meanhwile, U.S. Senator Brian Schatz (D-Hawai‘i) announced he will convene a Senate field hearing in Honolulu on the state’s emergency alert system. Schatz is the lead Democrat on the Senate Subcommittee on Communications, Technology, Innovation, and the Internet.
“For the state to fix this system, we need to understand what happened, and then gather the state and federal resources needed to make this right,” Senator Schatz said in a media release. “This hearing is an important step on the road to regaining the public’s trust.”
Sen. Schatz says he will have more details on the hearing including the date, location, and witnesses who are being invited to testify. The Honolulu field hearing will follow a similar one set for Thursday, January 25 in the U.S. Capitol, Schatz says. The Washington, D.C. hearing will focus on the effectiveness of the Emergency Alert System, including Wireless Emergency Alerts.