Tuesday, April 01, 2008


Do-it-yourself disaster planning

by Larry Geller

I have to agree with Hunter Bishop, for the reasons he gave in Volcano hazards now color-coded, that the Big Island's disaster planning, including the new brochure, is unhelpful. It does say some useful things about ash and sulfur dioxide, but not a lot about civil defense.

Basically, the brochure says "you're on your own."

There's even a bit about making your own evacuation plans, but nothing about where to go.

So I suppose, in the absence of any official guidance whatsoever, Big Island Civil Defense might turn themselves into traffic cops, guiding families in cars through intersections as they scurry here or there, like ants, trying to go somewhere other than where they are.

Think of it: while some families will be leaving their neighborhood, others may be moving in.

Why not have a plan, and let people know about it?

One of the most helpful suggestions is to wear a mask, but if you find it too difficult to breathe, take it off.

The brochure says nothing at all about how residents will be warned or what they are supposed to do or where to go. There's a nifty color code system on the back of the brochure, but no indication of where/how it will be used. There's nothing about sirens or radio warnings, emergency stations, where the shelters are located (are there shelters?) or the conditions for using them (pets? no pets?). Nothing. Zilch.

I hope there's another brochure with all the missing stuff.

In a comment to another post on Hunter's blog, the writer says "...CD has NO staff! Hard to write a plan when there is no one to write them! " Farther down, someone else states that plans are being developed. Better late than never, I suppose. Maybe they should hurry some more. The volcano won't wait.

Oahu has no volcano but we'll have our own disasters one day. We could sure learn from this what not to do.


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