Monday, October 2, 2023

STORY: Hawaiian officials have defended not using a siren system during last week’s deadly wildfire on Maui island.

On Wednesday Maui’s emergency chief Herman Andaya said doing so would have likely sent people into danger during a press conference that, at times, grew tense.


Journalist: “Do you regret not sounding the sirens?”

Andaya: “I do not. And the reason why…”

Journalist: “So many people said they could have been saved if they had time to escape…”

Andaya: “The sirens, as I mentioned earlier, is used primarily for tsunamis, and that’s the reason why many of them are found… almost all of them are found on the coastline. The public is trained to seek higher ground in the event that the siren is sounded. In fact, on the website of the Hawaii Emergency Management Agency, the following guideline is provided: If you are in a low-lying area near the coastline, evacuate to high grounds.”>>

Andaya went on to explain that’s the reason why emergency officials instead relied on text messages to phones and emergency messages on television and radio rather than sirens which would have only rang out on the coastline.

The fires engulfed the tourist resort town of Lahaina on August 8 leaving more than a hundred people dead and destroying or damaging some 2,000 buildings.

Hawaii Governor Josh Green also defended the use of sirens – and noted there would be review of the island’s response.

“So I tasked the attorney general to do that. She’s bringing in outside support as well. There have been some questions about whether it could be done independently the answer is yes. She has stated to me from the beginning that that was one of the purposes. She’ll, of course, review what she can. But we will bring outside reviewers. Also, it’s not a criminal investigation in any way.”

According to a White House statement, President Joe Biden and First Lady Jill Biden will head to Hawaii on Monday to survey the devastation and meet with officials, first responders, and survivors.

Hundreds of people are still unaccounted for, with a block-by-block search having only covered less than half of the disaster area.


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