HILO, Hawaii – Hawaii County was under a Tsunami Watch for a brief period of time on Thursday, following a magnitude 7.8 earthquake in the Solomon Islands.
The Pacific Tsunami Warning Center cancelled the watch shortly after it was issued. However, emergency management officials were at the ready. The Hawaii Emergency Management Agency was partially activated following the quake. Operations have since returned to normal.
On Hawaii Island, civil defense was also ready, although the agency is without an administrator. Previous acting administrator Ed Teixeira retired on Monday at noon, as the new Mayor Harry Kim took the oath of office.
By coincidence, the civil defense situation was the focus of a newspaper article in today’s Hawaii Tribune-Herald, No urgency in naming Civil Defense director, which reported the new County Managing Director Wil Okabe said Kim was “assessing the situation” and that Kim has met with Civil Defense staff each day this week.
Kim was also at the civil defense emergency operations center in Hilo on Thursday morning, even before the tsunami watch was triggered. An earlier earthquake off the coast of California got the attention of the new mayor – himself a long time civil defense administrator.
Mayor Kim later told Sherry Bracken during an interview that he is actively looking for a new civil defense administrator to oversee the operation.
He also said today’s earthquake was a lesson. “There is no ‘wait till tomorrow’, and we’ll attend to who is gonna be in charge,” Kim said. “I knew that from long time ago.”
“The response was there,” Kim said of today’s events. “We’re going to have to change a lot of things, because of different things. Mainly because of personnel changes.”
Kim said he expects to make a decision on the next civil defense administrator in no more than two weeks.
We will have much more from our sit down interview with Harry Kim on Big Island Video news and on Sherry Bracken’s Island Issues radio program.