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The Honolulu Advertiser
Posted on: Tuesday, March 2, 2010

City spends $330,000 responding to potential threat of Hawaii tsunami

Advertiser Staff

The city spent about $330,000 responding to Saturday’s tsunami warning but Mayor Mufi Hannemann said the expenses were fully justified.

“Certainly we averted a major disaster but the exercise, in my opinion, was one that was necessary in terms of you never have enough practice at this,” Hannemann said.
“I want to be clear, every penny of that $330,000 was well spent. Because if, in fact, a disaster would have occurred, certainly we’d want to know at the end of the day did we do everything to ensure that everybody was prepared?”
The $330,000 figure came from overtime costs for police and firefighters, as well as lost revenue from city facilities that were closed.
“We put our ... emergency operations center at 2:30 in the morning,” said Police Chief Louis Kealoha. “In preparing when the siren sounded, we deployed our officers and started the roadblocks and doing the evacuation of the danger zones, the inundation zones.”
Hannemann said the departments are debriefing and analyzing their performance and will see if there are was that they could improve.
Shortly after the tsunami potential was detected, Hannemann instructed the Emergency Operating Center be activated and fully staffed. The center was activated at 9:14 p.m. on Friday, to coordinate emergency preparation and response activities. It remained open throughout the night and next day, until the danger had passed.
Emergency Management Director Melvin Kaku said, “Without the cooperation of all these different organizations, we would not have been as successful as we were.”
The mayor, who was in Washington, D.C., on business, received updates on the situation during the night and as he traveled home, assisted with coordination of the city’s response during a layover in Houston.
“If and when we have to, we’re ready to launch into action," Hannemann said. "And I’m very grateful for these outstanding individuals and what they’re able to do.”