HONOLULU (KHON2) — West Maui residents received notifications while emergency sirens sounded during the Kaanapali brushfire on Saturday. KHON2 is learning the timeline of communication between Maui County and the state.
Some officials said, while this was an improvement, there’s still work to be done when it comes to communication.
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The Hawaii Emergency Management Agency said it activated emergency sirens Saturday at the request of the Maui Emergency Management Agency.
According to Maui County, four sirens from Wahikuli to Honokowai were triggered.
“They had some problems with the geotagging location so only the proper alarm would be sounded to include the wireless emergency alert and emergency alert system,” said Maj. Gen. Kenneth Hara of the Hawaii State Department of Defense. “So it was HIEMA on Oahu that triggered the alarm, but that was because of a technical issue.”
As for the timeline of communications between Maui County and the state, firefighters arrived on scene at 12:55 p.m..
HIEMA said, Maui County requested assistance at 1:13 p.m., sirens sounded at 1:26 p.m., and a wireless emergency alert was issued at 1:31 p.m. HIEMA adds, each alert required specific coding to ensure it targeted the correct geographic areas.
“In this climate and after this tragic fire, the siren was used just days ago, because there was no way possible not to use that after the discussion that we had,” said Gov. Josh Green, (D) Hawaii.
“They learned from the lessons of Aug. 8, as all of us did and so I feel confident that in the future, they’ll be a lot more prepared with regard to communications,” said Alice Lee, Maui County Council Chair.
KHON2 reached out to MEMA to find out what the criteria is to activate the sirens and if there will be different sounds for different emergencies, but have not heard back.
Monday is the first day on the job for interim administrator Darryl Oliveira.
Moving forward, officials said, there needs to be more public education.
“We’re going to need to know what those sirens signify and what type of emergency, that would be helpful,” Lee said.
This comes as the state has cancelled the monthly outdoor warning siren test for September due to a worldwide prayer to honor those killed in the Maui wildfire, happening around the same time. The next siren test will be on Oct. 2.