The first meeting of the Strengthening Koʻolaupoko: A Community Resilience Initiative was convened on October 29, 2018 at the Koʻolau Ballrooms in Kāneʻohe. Invitations were sent to a range of Koʻolaupoko community leaders, as well as representatives of critical infrastructure and emergency management, health and safety agencies. There were approximately 65 attendees, as well as Hawaiian Electric staff; a list of attendees is included at the end of this summary.
The meeting was structured to include two panel sessions, with critical infrastructure owners represented in the first panel and emergency management, health and safety agencies represented in the second panel. These sessions were designed to facilitate sharing of information regarding the risks associated with a major hurricane from the perspective of the various panelists. The second half of the meeting included breakout sessions to obtain community input on the strengths and vulnerabilities in the Koʻolaupoko community specific to a major hurricane event. The meeting was facilitated by Alani Apio, Linda Colburn and Nicole Brodie. The key information shared throughout the meeting is summarized below.
Opening remarks were provided by Scott Seu, Senior Vice President of Public Affairs at Hawaiian Electric. He explained that the goal is to start a conversation with community leadership, as the first step in a longer‐term effort to collaboratively identify actions to build community resilience in Koʻolaupoko. Recognizing that there is a broad range of weather‐related and man‐made hazards that could affect this area, the current discussion is specifically focused on a severe hurricane, which could result in the loss of power and significant impacts to other
critical infrastructure over an extended period. There is a more acute awareness of these threats based on the 2017 hurricane season, particularly following the events in Puerto Rico. Furthermore, there is a better understanding that disaster preparation and recovery will require close coordination between various agencies and organizations and cannot be addressed alone by any single entity. The intent of the current discussion is to raise awareness of the
risks associated with a major hurricane in the Koʻolaupoko region, and to collectively identify actions that can be taken to address these issues. It is understood that there are multiple entities working on disaster planning and preparedness, and the hope is that this effort will bring those groups together to share ideas and move forward in coordination.
Scott noted that Hawaiian Electric’s 2016 Power Supply Improvement Plan (PSIP) introduced the concept of a power generating facility at Marine Corps Base Hawaiʻi (MCBH). He emphasized that Hawaiian Electric has since realized that a new power generating facility may not be aligned with the community’s needs and desires. As such, the concept of a power generating plant at MCBH is not being pursued at this time but could be in the future if the community identifies this as part of the path forward.
Based on the Community Resilience Building Workshop Guide, the overall process for the community resilience initiative involves the following steps: (1) define the impacts of a severe hurricane; (2) identify community vulnerabilities and strengths; (3) identify and prioritize community actions; (4) determine overall priority actions; and (5) put it all together. Recognizing that this full process will take time, the goal for the current discussion is to identify and build collective awareness of the vulnerabilities and strengths of the Koʻolaupoko region (Step 2). Once there is an adequate understanding of the issues, the next step will involve identification of actions for implementation. This effort should incorporate three pillars of resilience: community preparedness, critical infrastructure and government preparedness, and critical infrastructure risk reduction. There is a particular need to focus on community preparedness (that is, how can the community take care of itself in the aftermath of a disaster, in the time before critical infrastructure is repaired). Copies of related meeting handouts are included at the end of this summary.
An overview of community resilience was provided by Josh Stanbro, Executive Director and Chief Resilience Officer with the City & County of Honolulu Office of Climate Change, Sustainability & Resiliency. In the context of the current discussion, resilience is defined as the capacity to survive, adapt, and thrive no matter what kind of chronic stresses and active shocks are experienced. Based on ongoing outreach conducted by the Office of Climate Change, Sustainability & Resiliency, residents identified the top potential shocks and stresses in Hawaiʻi to include hurricanes, tsunamis, flooding, cost of living and aging infrastructure. Given the observed and anticipated effects of climate change, these potential stresses and shocks are growing both in intensity and frequency. The resulting effects will be at a scale that requires extensive alignment and collaboration between the public, private and non‐profit sectors. The faster we eliminate fossil fuel from our economy, the less climate risk we face. Recent disasters in Puerto Rico and Saipan provide insight into the particular vulnerability of island communities and the need for shared preparation and response.
The Office of Climate Change, Sustainability & Resiliency is working on an Oʻahu Resilience Strategy for the City and County of Honolulu that addresses issues including long‐term affordability, disaster preparedness, climate change mitigation and adaptation, and social cohesion. This current discussion with the Koʻolaupoko community can help inform the Resiliency Strategy, and the need to build partnerships based on shared values. Leveraging these partnerships will be key to building resilience through
actions that enable the community to best respond to shocks and stresses (and ideally, in advance of future events). Looking to other communities to learn from their experiences will also help to inform this process. Finally, research indicates that the neighborhoods with the deepest social bonds are those that bounce back the fastest following a disaster. This underscores the need to address how best to work together, while also focusing on building resilient infrastructure.
PANEL: Critical Infrastructure
The first panel specifically addressed critical infrastructure and focused on what residents and businesses should expect in the aftermath of a disaster from the perspective of the critical infrastructure owners. The discussion was intended to provide a better understanding of the risks and vulnerabilities, specific priorities during recovery, and interdependencies of disaster response efforts for the Koʻolaupoko region. The panelists’ remarks are summarized below.
Colton Ching, Senior Vice President of Planning and Technology for Hawaiian Electric, provided an overview of the existing electrical system that services the Koʻolaupoko region. He explained that power is generated on the southern and western sides of Oʻahu and is transmitted to the windward side via three sets of transmission lines that cross the Koʻolau Mountains. The transmission lines terminate at Hawaiian Electric’s Koʻolau substation; then power is distributed throughout the Koʻolaupoko region. Because all power for this region is delivered across the Koʻolau Mountains and distributed via a single substation, there is a concentrated risk to the system in the event of a major hurricane. In particular, the transmission lines crossing the Koʻolau Mountains are vulnerable to increased wind speeds and are in remote areas without roads; work in these areas requires the use of specialty helicopters. Other infrastructure that is key to recovery of the electrical system includes Honolulu Harbor (for delivery of electrical system components and other equipment), as well as highways and local roadways (to facilitate access for repairs to the distribution system).
Hawaiian Electric is concerned about the concentrated risk to the Koʻolaupoko region and has been working on identifying potential ways to increase the resilience of power delivery. A specific area of emphasis relates to new technologies. It is expected that approximately 200 megawatts of renewable power will be added to the island‐wide grid over the next five years and integration of this electricity will require energy storage systems (e.g., batteries). In thinking about the types of technology and location of these energy storage systems, Hawaiian Electric is exploring whether the storage capacity can be used to increase resilience in Koʻolaupoko.
A question was asked regarding the estimated impact to the transmission lines across the Koʻolau Mountains from a Category 4 or 5 hurricane (wind speeds >130 mph). Colton explained that in recent years, Hawaiian Electric has been inspecting the transmission lines and repairing and replacing key components. For example, the existing lattice structures have been replaced with steel poles that are rated to withstand conditions associated with a Category 2 or 3 hurricane (wind speeds >96 mph).
The conductors have also been replaced with components that are rated for higher wind speeds. However, in the event of a Category 4 or 5 hurricane, there is likely to still be significant damage (e.g., from airborne vegetation and debris).
Ernest Lau, Manager & Chief Engineer for Board of Water Supply, began by emphasizing the importance of community‐based planning, and described the value of community relationships to disaster recovery based on his experience working on Kauaʻi following Hurricane Iniki. He explained
that all life depends on water and that one cannot live without water for more than a few days. The Board of Water Supply provides drinking water for the island of Oʻahu, entirely from groundwater. Approximately 8.5 of the 16 million gallons of water that are used per day on the windward coast comes from tunnel systems (located in Kahaluʻu, Waiheʻe, Hāʻiku, Luluku and Waimānalo). Because these tunnel systems are gravity‐fed, and thus do not require power, they will continue to run as long as they are not damaged (e.g., due to falling trees or landslides). As a result, the Koʻolaupoko region is one of the more resilient communities in terms of water supply. Regardless, the Hawaii Emergency Management Agency (HiEMA) recommends storing a minimum of 14 gallons of water per person (one gallon per person per day for 14 days).
Wells serve as the other source of drinking water. Because wells require power to operate, backup power is critical to restoring this component of the water delivery system in the event of a major hurricane. The Board of Water Supply currently owns seven portable generators and is in the process of acquiring additional units, as well as developing several fixed generators. However, even with the additional generators, they cannot meet their target of providing back‐up power for 85 percent of customers. They currently can provide back‐up power for approximately 70 percent of customers and are working toward addressing the remaining gap (although this is very expensive). They are also working on ensuring back‐up power for water delivery to hospitals.
A question was asked regarding the vulnerability of the groundwater supply relative to storms and other malignant actions. Ernest responded that, specific to storm events, the water supply is fairly resilient, although the tunnel systems could be affected by conditions such as landslides. He explained that the biggest risk to groundwater is petroleum stored in tanks at Red Hill.
Lori Kahikina, Director of the City & County of Honolulu Department of Environmental Services, addressed both the solid waste and wastewater systems. The solid waste system includes collection of the following items from residences: green waste (taken to a facility in Wahiawā), recycling (taken to a processing facility in Campbell Industrial Park), and waste (taken to H‐Power). In the event of a major hurricane, regular collection of these items will be interrupted. The solid waste division is responsible for debris management and will work with their on‐call contractors to move hurricane debris to designated locations (e.g., parks), beginning with debris cleared from roadways. If possible, this material will be processed at H‐Power, or alternatively taken to the landfill. H‐Power is still able to operate without power; if for some reason Hawaiian Electric is unable to accept generation from H‐Power, the facility can still operate using a dump condenser.
The wastewater system collects wastewater from individual residences and uses a combination of gravity‐fed lines and pump stations to transport it to treatment facilities, where the wastewater is processed then sent out via injection wells or outfalls. Treatment facilities in the Koʻolaupoko region are in Kailua and Waimānalo. Pre‐treatment facilities in ʻĀhuimanu and Kāneʻohe are used to skim material, but wastewater still needs to get to the Kailua treatment facility for processing. In the event of a major hurricane, the wastewater system is vulnerable to inflow and infiltration by rainwater, which can overwhelm the system. The new Kailua‐Kāneʻohe tunnel helps to increase storage capacity, but only up to a certain point. If the system is overwhelmed, wastewater will back‐up at manholes and residential plumbing systems without flapper valves. To help address this issue, residences should minimize water usage before and during severe weather events. Wastewater that reaches the treatment plants can still be processed and sent to outfalls, but both the wastewater treatment plants and pump stations are not able to operate without power. There are approximately
30 pump stations throughout the Koʻolaupoko region. Each wastewater treatment plant and pump station includes back‐up generators that can be used in the event of a power outage, but only have adequate fuel to operate for 3‐5 days. After this time, additional fuel would be needed, which requires clearing of roadways to provide access.
A question was asked regarding homes with catchment systems and whether catchment water can be used to flush toilets. Lori clarified that during flood conditions, water usage should be minimized to reduce the amount of wastewater entering the system. Another question related to whether there are shut‐off valves on the pump stations that can be used to prevent back‐up to residential system.
Lori clarified that flapper valves on residential plumbing systems will prevent back‐up from gravity‐ fed lines (but flapper valves can cause in‐home flooding as they will not open when the gravity‐fed lines are backed up). Although the pump stations can be shut down, this causes further back‐up in the system (so they will continue to be operated as long as there is adequate fuel). A final question was asked regarding how storm debris is separated prior to roadside pickup, and what citizens can do to help this process. Lori responded that storm debris is not typically separated prior to pick‐up, but the contractors are supposed to separate it once it is staged. To the extent possible, materials will be taken to the recycling facility or to H‐Power. Non‐combustibles will be left for the landfill.
Ed Sniffen, Deputy Director of Highways for the Hawaii Department of Transportation (HDOT), explained that in the event of a major hurricane, it should be expected that there will be significant damage to roadway system; based on modeling efforts, it is estimated that approximately 70 percent of the statewide roadways will be impassible. In preparation for this type of event, HDOT works with HiEMA and the County to practice emergency response procedures. These procedures involve setting up field staff in designated locations to facilitate emergency response (e.g., Hauʻula, Wahiawa and along H‐3). Although there is typically strong coordination between emergency responders and other agencies, it is anticipated that communications will not be available during and following a major hurricane; in this case, there are protocols in place for HDOT field staff to proceed with priority actions once it is safe to do so. Priorities include clearing debris to restore access to the ports and airports, as well as routes for emergency responders. Once these priorities have been fulfilled, HDOT crews will focus on clearing debris from roadways. It is important to have the right personnel involved with these efforts; for example, Hawaiian Electric staff are needed to address live wires. In addition to maximizing safety, this also helps for the recovery efforts to be strategic (for example, protecting equipment such as electrical poles during debris removal). It is also important for HDOT to maintain communications with Hawaiian Electric and Board of Water Supply, so they can prioritize access to key facilities.
A question was asked about whether there are plans to relocate the coastal highways over time. Ed explained that approximately 20 percent of the roadway system is in areas that are susceptible to coastal flooding, and the cost to relocate these facilities is approximately $15 billion. There are efforts underway to evaluate the needs, including planning studies through the University of Hawaiʻi that seek to identify (1) high priority areas that need to get fixed over the short‐term based on current conditions; (2) areas that are easy to relocate over the mid‐term; and (3) areas where service may not be practical over the long‐term (or alternative ways of serving these areas). These studies are seeking to address the efforts that will be needed to develop a sustainable highway system, but it will also be important to more broadly consider land use.
Corey Shaffer, Principal System Performance Engineer for Verizon Wireless, provided an overview of the telecommunication network. He explained that information from cell phones is transmitted to various cell sites (which include antennas and associated equipment); from the cell sites, information is then sent to a mobile switching center, which communicates with other telecommunication companies and/or the internet. The critical items needed for communication between the cell sites and the mobile switching center are power and backhaul. Nearly all cell sites use fiber optics for backhaul, because it is more reliable on a day‐to‐day basis. Fiber optic cable is typically installed on the same poles as the electrical lines and is vulnerable to breaking due to downed poles during a major hurricane. There is some redundancy with fiber optics in terms of different providers; however, in the event of a major hurricane, it is expected that all providers will be dealing with a significant number of downed poles and broken fiber optic cable. A small percentage of cell sites use microwave for backhaul, but it is cost‐prohibitive to include both fiber optics and microwave backhaul at each cell site. Satellite backhaul is also an option, but it is very low bandwidth and only allows for limited communication. As such, backhaul is the primary vulnerability in the telecommunication system. Loss of power is also a concern, but each cell site typically has back‐up generation. Like other critical infrastructure systems, the back‐up generators can run for several days, after which access will be required for fuel delivery. Restoration of access and the electrical system will be the first step in getting the telecommunication system back in place.
A question was asked regarding whether communications can be prioritized for emergency workers and personnel. Corey answered that both the wireless and wired networks have protocols that can be used to prioritize communications (e.g., on the wireless network, certain agency phones can be registered to have priority access at cell sites). Another question related to whether the information provided is specific to Verizon’s network, or if it is also applicable to other
telecommunication providers. Corey responded that every provider has slightly different approaches, but the general concepts and information are applicable to other telecommunication providers.
Richard Kirchner, Director of Facilities and Emergency Manager for Adventist Health Castle, explained that specific risks and vulnerabilities for Castle Hospital relate to power, medical supply chain (including oxygen, medical supplies, and pharmaceuticals), and adequate staffing. In the event of a major hurricane and loss of electricity, the hospital has backup generators and adequate fuel to operate select facilities for approximately 10‐14 days. The supply chain for medical supplies and pharmaceuticals is fairly tight, so restoring access to the ports will be important. Hospitals are required to maintain back‐up supplies (including at least four days of food, water and fuel); these would only provide the bare minimum for staff and patients and would not be available for the general community. In terms of staff availability, studies suggest that approximately 30 percent of any given businesses’ staff will not be available to work in the aftermath of a disaster. Priorities during the recovery period would be to monitor emergency generators and to establish refueling,
provide water for sanitation, care for staff (shelter and support), and maintain access for emergency responders. Assuming telecommunications are available, the hospital would work with the Hawaii Healthcare Emergency Management Coalition, which helps to prioritize emergency response tasks and provisioning of supplies.
A question was asked regarding whether Adventist Health has access to stockpiled medical supplies and food in offsite locations. Richard responded that medical supplies come through the Healthcare Association of Hawaii. At the current time, there is no offsite food storage for the hospital. Another question was asked if Castle Hospital has enough contingency support for medical personnel (e.g., to cover staff that do not show up for work). Richard responded that there are approximately 1,200 employees that work rotating shifts; if approximately 30 percent of the staff did not report for work, it is expected that there would still be adequate personnel to operate the facilities. There may be a need to curtail certain services (e.g., outpatient services and voluntary surgeries), but it is expected that the core business would be supported.
The floor was then opened to general questions from the audience for the entire panel.
A question was asked regarding whether the Department of Environmental Services designates locations for staging and collection of trash and debris. It was noted that there is a significant amount of illegal dumping in areas such as Waimānalo, and this issue is expected to be even worse in the aftermath of a major hurricane. Lori Kahikina responded that designated locations have not previously been established, but that this is good input that should be considered.
Another question that was asked related to procedures and responsibility for confirming the accuracy of information, referencing issues related to the false missile alert on January 13, 2018. The panelists generally deferred to HiEMA and the Department of Emergency Management (DEM) for this type of coordination. Corey Schaffer noted that residents should assume that cellular service would not be available in the aftermath of a major hurricane and recommended having access to a radio.
A question was asked about the value of creating an infrastructure resilience planning group to help establish priorities and provide coordination between agencies. Colton Ching noted that there has been some effort related to this concept, including recent legislation. There is also community recognition of the need for planning and preparation. Ed Sniffen further emphasized that the critical infrastructure is owned by a wide variety of federal, state, county and private entities, which underscores the need for cross collaboration.
A member of the audience noted that the storm drain system is antiquated and not well maintained and asked if and how this is being addressed. Ed Sniffen explained that storm drains are a consideration in all projects conducted for the highway system. However, the biggest issue is clearing areas above the storm drains prior to medium or large‐scale weather events, which is problematic because of the multiple layers of land ownership and jurisdiction. In addition, there are certain areas that will flood in any condition (e.g., Waiāhole, Waikāne). Addressing flooding on the highway or near the shoreline needs to incorporate upstream areas as well.
The next question related to how, if at all, decentralized renewable energy sources can help to mitigate the effect of damage to the transmission lines. Colton Ching explained that solar energy currently constitutes most of the distributed renewable power. The technology is changing quickly, but currently, use of distributed renewable energy to replace the transmission capacity will require
massive amounts of storage. Regardless, there may be opportunities to use distributed energy to provide power in key areas to maximize availability during emergency situations. He noted that technologies will only be effective in emergency situations if they are designed properly (for example, rooftop solar can provide power following a major hurricane, but only if the roof is still in place). He emphasized that the complete picture needs to be considered when designing the solution set.
A final question was asked regarding whether local medical clinics are adequately prepared. Richard Kirchner stated that Castle Hospital does not operate any clinics, but these facilities may help to supplement the hospital during emergency response, highlighting the need for ongoing communication and coordination. He noted that this has been a topic of conversation, but more discussion is needed.
PANEL: Emergency Management, Health & Safety
The second panel included organizations and agency representatives who also addressed the question of what residents and businesses should expect to occur in the aftermath of a major hurricane, from an emergency management and health and safety perspective. Similar to the first panel, the discussion was intended to further develop the community’s understanding of the risks and vulnerabilities, specific priorities during recovery, and interdependencies of disaster response efforts for the Koʻolaupoko region. The panelists’ remarks are summarized below.
Hirokazu Toiya, Deputy Director for the City & County of Honolulu Department of Emergency Management (DEM), started by explaining that DEM is not staffed with first responders, but rather is a coordination agency. The priority for the agency is to communicate with partners and the public, and to provide situational awareness. In response to the earlier question regarding coordination of public information, the goal is to provide a joint information system, which means that all responsible entities are working together to provide a clear and consistent message. An example is the press releases that are held by the mayor and subject matter experts from various departments in preparation for emergency events. Another key component is having a consistent method for disseminating information; KSSK Radio AM 590 and FM 92.3 (iHeartMedia) is used as the official source of information (and they have emergency systems in place). It is also necessary for the public to be able to receive the information (e.g., having battery‐operated radios). Given the multiple facets, emergency management requires the entire community to work together (government, first responders, individual households). It is important for these entities to prepare under a set of common planning assumptions, so that everyone understands the priorities and can function in the absence of a centralized system (e.g., if communications are cut off during an emergency). In addition, government agencies should be supporting and coordinating with the various community groups that are working on emergency preparedness; there are at least five such groups in the Koʻolaupoko region. Yet another important layer to consider is the need to plan for long‐term recovery. Ultimately, DEM is working to try to bring these various pieces together and coordinate across the entire spectrum of emergency management.
A member of the audience noted that the HNL Info app is very useful and asked if there has been discussion of including state department alerts. Hiro explained that the app was developed by the City’s Department of Information Technology (as a replacement for Nixle). There are some issues with including alerts from state agencies, but these mostly involve management‐related decisions (e.g., whether to allow state agencies to have access to the City’s network or whether the City will take on responsibility for notification on behalf of state agencies). There is interest and these discussions have started, but there are still details that need to get worked out.
A question was also asked regarding whether the police and fire departments want to work with the community emergency response teams (CERT). Hiro explained that DEM sponsors the CERT program and provides initial training and development. The concept of the CERT program is that these teams give the community some ability to
care for itself during an emergency; however, they were not envisioned to be part of the City & County of Honolulu’s chain of command. DEM has an emergency management reserve corps, which is a separate pool of volunteers that are trained to be part of the formal chain of command. The CERTs are intended to be a function of the community. From the perspective of the Honolulu Police Department, the CERT teams were
essential to providing an initial assessment for emergency responders during recent events. If additional CERT personnel can be trained, it would be very helpful as they serve a critical function in the community. Hiro emphasized that regardless of command and control, CERT teams are an asset to first responders.
Thomas Travis, Administrator for the Hawaiʻi Emergency Management Agency (HiEMA), began by noting that Hawaiʻi has been facing a near‐constant stream of disaster‐related events and that Hurricane Lane presented a potential worst‐case scenario. The recent storm that hit Saipan resulted in no access to food, water, communication, or port and airport facilities; all resources needed to be brought in by helicopter. In contrast to Saipan (which has a population of approximately 30,000 people), Hawaiʻi has a population of more than one million people, which presents a significant issue for recovery. The emergency management response system begins with first responders (police, ambulance, fire), who rely on their departments to provide resources. When it is determined that additional resources are needed, these are requested from the County, then in turn from the State and federal entities. HiEMA’s position in this chain is to provide support to the first responders and County, and to help bring in aid from the federal government when it is needed. This process requires strong relationships and consideration of tradeoffs. For example, the recent flooding on Kauaʻi resulted in isolation of several communities. Different approaches were considered for delivering supplies, including using National Guard helicopters (which are very expensive and have limited availability) and Navy barges (which requires land‐based access from the barge to the community). Development and evaluation of such options requires having strong relationships in place, which involves ongoing practice and preparation. Another critical issue is the scale of preparation efforts. Preparing for a catastrophic event is expensive and involves extensive effort and resources that may be wasted if the event does not occur. In contrast, preparing for a smaller event is more efficient, but may leave communities inadequately prepared in the event of more widespread issues.
A question was asked about the ongoing issue of responsibility for specific infrastructure (e.g., streams, roads and bridges) as related to mitigation and recovery. Tom acknowledged that this is a problem because of the multiple layers of land ownership and jurisdiction, and still needs to be
addressed. He noted that Kauaʻi County has proposed a mutual assistance pact between the County, State, and some private entities, which would give the County authority to lead the effort for stream cleaning. Another question was asked regarding whether the State and County have mitigation plans and how the public can be involved in updates. Tom explained that the State’s mitigation plan was recently approved in October 2018 and that this process involved multiple public hearings. Hiro noted that the City & County of Honolulu is in the process of updating its’ hazard mitigation plan, and public meetings are ongoing. Tom further explained that when the federal government declares a disaster, a percentage of the estimated cost is set aside for mitigation funding. These funds are allocated by HiEMA to various applicants for mitigation projects. Recent legislation will result in additional funds for mitigation efforts that can be spent in advance of a disaster (e.g., purchasing generators, developing storage facilities for critical infrastructure.
Doug Wadsworth, Chief of Staff for Marine Corps Base Hawaii (MCBH), in place of Col. Raul Lianez, explained that MCBH includes eight installations (including Kāneʻohe), approximately 2,600 homes, industrial hangars, an airport, marina, and a school. The primary role of base personnel is to support tenants of the base, which includes an infantry regiment and an aircraft group. On a day‐to‐day basis, the focus is on training and deployment readiness. In an emergency, the focus remains on supporting these entities and the overall mission. Maintaining communication and access via the roadway system (including H‐3) is key. Specific challenges include aging base infrastructure and a limited ability to adequately shelter and protect aircraft. In terms of assisting the community, the base commander has the authority to respond if there is immediate threat to life and limb; however, the typical approach is to wait for a request for assistance via the formal chain of command. MCBH can help in emergency situations with equipment and manpower, but it is important to understand that their mission remains focused on training and deployment readiness. Stockpiled food is generally only available for base personnel. There is substantial fuel storage, which can be used to support other agencies. The airport and marina facilities may also be used for emergency response.
A question was asked regarding whether MCBH is forward‐planning for sea‐level rise or coastal erosion. Doug acknowledged the concern and importance of addressing these issues. He explained that a planning effort has been started but has not progressed very far because of the day‐to‐day requirements, noting that more attention is needed to address this issue moving forward. An additional question was asked about how HiEMA and DEM would prioritize Koʻolaupoko versus other communities. Hiro stated that the County is aware that there are significant vulnerabilities in Koʻolaupoko but explained that prioritization is based on specific needs that arise during an event; the top focus will always be on life safety. Tom noted that every community has its strengths and weaknesses, but prioritizing communities is not an approach that is taken by emergency responders.
James Howe, Jr., Director of the Honolulu Emergency Services Department, explained that the Honolulu Emergency Services Department is focused on life safety, and includes land and ocean‐ based services. Within the emergency medical services (EMS) division, there are approximately 250 staff and 21 ambulances that provide all emergency, pre‐hospital needs for the community. In the event of a major hurricane, there is no guarantee that EMS will be able to reach any given community, so it is very important that communities are prepared to sustain themselves. The assumption is that there will be no electricity, a compromised transportation network, limited shipping and airlift capability, and no postal service for an extended period. The diabetes community is a particularly vulnerable population within the community and is becoming increasingly dependent
on mail‐order medication. Given the size of population on Oʻahu, the number of people that require medication is significant. Another key issue is loss of communication from the community to emergency responders, as emergency response can only be provided if it is known that help is needed (and access is available).
The ocean safety group includes approximately 300 lifeguards, who staff 42 locations around the island and operate 16 mobile response vehicles (including 8 rescue craft). These rescue craft can be critical to providing access to isolated communities along the coast. In the event of a major hurricane, the community will be dealing with significant mortality and trauma. EMS has plans and resources to help but needs to be able to reach a community (which can take time). In the meantime, the community will need to care for itself. This underscores the guidance from DEM and HiEMA that everyone needs to be prepared to sustain themselves for 14‐21 days.
A member of the audience acknowledged the need for the community to be organized and prepared to take care of themselves for up to one month and asked what sort of support is being provided to the community by the institutional response system. Hiro referenced the CERT program and Hawaii Hazard Awareness and Resilience Program (HHARP) as examples of efforts to promote community education. However, systematic support in terms of providing resources to community groups has not been adequately addressed. The cross‐island community‐based resilience network, which focuses on information sharing and collaboration, may be an opportunity for leveraging additional support.
An additional question was asked regarding whether there are plans to improve schools and other facilities that can serve as shelters. Tom explained that Hawaiʻi does not have adequate shelter facilities that are resistant to high winds. There is a long‐term program to address this issue, but the effort is not keeping up with the need; this is a problem that still needs to be resolved.
Capt. Scot Seguirant, Honolulu Fire Department, was unable to attend the forum.
Lt. Robert Towne, Honolulu Police Department, explained that the police department’s top priority is to protect life; the second priority is to protect property (e.g., preventing theft). In the event of a major hurricane, the police department shifts into critical incident mode. This involves setting up a situation room to facilitate coordination with DEM and other agencies. Only Priority 1 calls will be addressed (Priority 2 calls are stacked); the community can help by only calling with emergency‐ related requests. District 4 (from Makapuʻu Beach to Turtle Bay) includes 17 officers; in preparation for a major hurricane, staffing would increase to 22 officers on 12‐hour shifts. This effort is focused on maximizing capabilities, while sustaining the staff over the longer recovery period. There are also plans in place for housing and sheltering officers between shifts. One area of focus for the police department is providing security for emergency shelters; this includes working with the mayor and DEM to respond to the need for additional shelters and providing access to those shelters. The department is working on putting contingency plans in place through relationships with other entities; for example, working with MCBH to clear H‐3 for access.
A question was asked regarding the robustness of the 911 system. Robert responded that there is room for improvement. Calls to 911 are answered by only a few operators who direct calls to the police, fire or ambulance dispatchers, who then sort the calls into Priority 1 and Priority 2. Priority 1 calls are answered relatively quickly, but response times for Priority 2 calls can be quite long. A 311 system is being considered for Priority 2 calls, which would help to free up the 911 system for Priority 1 calls. Tom added that the City has been working in cooperation with the State to develop a joint
traffic management center. This facility will consolidate all 911 dispatch centers, along with HDOT and the Department of Transportation Services. The intent is to provide a single coordination center that will maximize situational awareness for dispatchers across the entire island. This will significantly increase the internal robustness of the 911 system; however, the system still depends on cellular service or landlines for the community to reach the dispatchers.
LUNCH: Community Preparedness
There were two speakers during the lunch period that discussed community preparedness within the Koʻolaupoko region. The panelists’ remarks are summarized below.
Hiʻilei Kawelo, Executive Director of Paepae o Heʻeia, began by noting that her takeaway message from the panelist comments is that there is a high level of dependence on outside resources to prepare and respond to emergency situations. She explained that Paepae o Heʻeia and other community groups are focused on trying to build resilience and the ability for the community to care for itself. She provided a brief history of the effort to restore Heʻeia fishpond as well as to produce food, and the progress that has been made to date. She described the vulnerabilities of the fishpond, particularly those associated with flooding (noting that Heʻeia means “to wash away”) but explained that these events have provided opportunities for learning. One of her key messages related to the importance of investing in the people within a community, as they will serve as first responders in an emergency; this type of investment should be a measure of success.
There was a question from the audience regarding the extent to which the fishpond is affected by increased pollution and/or salinity. Hiʻilei responded that there tends to be pulses of pollution and sediment during flood events, but there are also other ongoing inputs from sources such as nearby cesspools. Changes in salinity occur because of flooding and can result in fish die‐off. Another question related to whether the fish are being harvested. Hiʻilei responded that they have had community sales of moi and are working on stocking the ponds for continued harvests (but are waiting to get to the point that the population is self‐sustaining). A final question related to how fishponds serve as a catalyst for community resilience and education. Hiʻilei explained that fishponds are the piko of a community, and the health of fishponds reflect the health of the entire system. She referenced that there is now a group of about 50 fishponds statewide, which shows the ripple effect on other communities seeking to engage in similar work. She also emphasized the opportunities to engage learners and students of all ages, which is key to long‐term success.
Marc Lawton, lead coordinator for the Kailua Community Emergency Response Team, provided background and details on the CERT program and other community‐based efforts related to emergency response. He explained that these efforts started with the formation of a disaster preparedness subcommittee on the Kailua neighborhood board, followed by development of the Kailua Multi‐Hazard Mitigation, Preparedness Response and Recovery Plan, and subsequent
formation of the Kailua CERT. These actions were based on recognition of the extensive evacuation and search and rescue requirements associated with a major tsunami event.
The CERT program is focused on volunteer‐based community response and preparedness. The goal is to prepare communities to reduce the dependence on government agencies and emergencies responders. CERT volunteers meet monthly for ongoing coordination and training. In the event of an emergency, the Kailua CERT would self‐activate to an operation center set up at Kailua High School with an incident management team (IMT) and coordination with DEM via amateur radio. Response teams would deploy under the direction of the IMT to conduct light search and rescue and would provide information back to the operations center. There are currently about 30 volunteers for the Kailua CERT; additional people are needed to adequately support the community (which has a population of approximately 50,000 people). Kailua Alert and Prepared (KAP) is a related non‐profit organization that teaches individual and community preparedness. This organization is still in the early stages of development, but is seeking to partner with organizations that have resources, and provides funding for the CERT.
A question was asked whether the CERT response teams deploy with HAM radios. Marc responded that each response team has a HAM radio operator who is responsible for communicating with the IMT, which in turn communicates with DEM. He noted that about half of the CERT members are certified. Another question was asked about funding for the radios; Marc responded that everything used by CERT is currently self‐funded. KAP provides a funding source via donations, but this is very minimal. A final question was asked about other CERT teams on Oʻahu. Marc responded that there are other CERT team on the island (including several others in Koʻolaupoko). The Kailua CERT was the first to be formed, and they are trying to provide information and training to other CERTs.
BREAKOUT SESSIONS: Vulnerabilities & Strengths
During the breakout sessions, meeting participants were asked to identify the vulnerabilities and strengths of the Koʻolaupoko community, specifically within the context of a major hurricane event. This exercise was conducted for three categories – infrastructure, societal, and environmental features – with rotating stations to allow participants to contribute to each category. The input regarding the
vulnerabilities and strengths for each category were compiled into a matrix format; copies of these matrices are attached as reference documents at the end of this meeting summary.
Following the breakout sessions, the facilitator for each session summarized the input that was provided regarding vulnerabilities and strengths of the Koʻolaupoko community, specific to infrastructure, societal, and environmental features.
The closing discussion started with an open Q&A session, with a specific request for any comments on process and content. The first comment from the audience commended the sense of community and general connectivity throughout the Koʻolaupoko region. An additional comment was provided regarding the desire for this effort to continue, with an emphasis on planning for recovery. In addition, the question was asked whether the process could also be applied to Koʻolauloa. Alani and Scott explained that the effort was started in Koʻolaupoko because of known vulnerabilities but emphasized that the intent is to transfer the process to other locations in the future. A final question was asked regarding why the forum was being hosted by Hawaiian Electric, as these efforts are usually led by governmental agencies. Scott responded that Hawaiian Electric has been focusing on the vulnerability of the electrical infrastructure (particularly after Hurricane Maria in Puerto Rico), but realized that there needs to be a more holistic approach based on other infrastructure and community needs. Realizing that no single entity can address the issues alone, the desire was to bring everyone together. Although Hawaiian Electric is technically the sponsor of forum, the intent is to have all players on the same level to work together on a path forward. Hawaiian Electric’s desired outcome is to develop a better sense of the priorities for their infrastructure in Koʻolaupoko region, and likewise for other entities to better understand the priorities related to their areas of interest. Other desired outcomes are to identify opportunities for the various entities to collectively support projects and efforts within the community. A question was asked regarding whether there are subject matter experts involved in the process whom could provide input on the societal component. Scott responded that this is an important point and welcomed further input regarding others that should be invited.
Scott then addressed the next steps, referring to the overall process chart. Based on the current effort of sharing information and identifying the strength and vulnerabilities, he explained that the next step is to start identifying actions that can be taken to address those issues (followed by evaluating priorities and timing). The intent is to develop both
near‐term and long‐term action items that relate to each of the three pillars of resilience.
The next meeting is planned to occur at the Royal Hawaiian Country Club in Maunawili on January 24, 2019; assuming a half‐day meeting, participants were asked to provide input on the preferred timing to convene on that day. A follow‐up survey will be provided to collect additional feedback, as well as to obtain input on future meeting dates.