Wednesday, January 17, 2001
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Posted on: Wednesday, January 17, 2001

State unveils action figures to push disaster readiness

By Walter Wright
Advertiser Staff Writer

A woman called Mother Nature and four hulking wrestler-types with names like Flash Flood and Hurricane were introduced to the public yesterday as part of a campaign to help Hawaii residents protect themselves against natural disasters.

The comical characters, played by an actress and local body-builders in action-figure costumes and makeup, will debut Feb. 1 in TV and radio commercials, newspaper ads and in utility, bank and cable television billing envelopes.

The characters are designed, Lt. Gov. Mazie Hirono said, to call attention to a new Web site,, telling how to reduce damage, injury and death far in advance of floods, tsunamis, hurricanes, earthquakes, volcanic eruptions and other natural disasters.

The other two characters represent tsunamis and earthquakes.

Paying a contractor $900 to $1,200 to install metal clips between rafters and walls on the average home is a typical mitigation measure to reduce hurricane damage, according to Gerald Peters, president of Hurricane Protection Systems Inc. in Honolulu.

The educational program is paid for primarily by a $150,000 grant from the U. S. Federal Emergency Management Agency to state Civil Defense officials and routed through a new Hawaii Statewide Hazard Mitigation Forum which contracted at discounted rates with the Schiller Group advertising agency for much of the work.

Oceanic Cable has offered $25,000 worth of free air time, The Honolulu Advertiser said it would publish some of the program’s print advertising at no charge and businesses are putting program flyers in their mailings and on their countertops, according to forum chairman Michael P. Hamnett, director of the Social Science Research Institute at the University of Hawaii at Manoa.

Martin Schiller of the ad agency said creating interesting characters to represent nature and her forces was an effort to "break through the clutter" of other information in the mass media.

Larry Kanda, the state’s hazard mitigation officer, said the forum deliberated long and hard whether the wrestler images for hurricanes and tsunamis trivialized the kinds of disasters which have caused great suffering for Hawaii families in the past.

He said the group concluded that the advertising is a small part of the program and is designed to attract attention to the larger part, the Web site.

The site, Kanda said, is quite serious and educational in its effort to help residents of th Islands prepare for such emergencies far in advance, and to reduce the kind of very real suffering experienced in past emergencies.

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