HONOLULU (KHON2) — The state is changing how it gets ready for disasters, and wildfire has been elevated to a high risk. It’s all in an updated State Hazard Mitigation Plan required by the Federal Emergency Management Agency to be updated every five years in order to qualify for federal grants. The Lahaina fires weighed in on the final draft.
“Overall we had three fires on Maui, Lahaina, Kula as well as in Kihei, and then also on the Big Island in Kohala,” said Don Aweau, executive officer at the Hawaii Emergency Management Agency, regarding the August blazes. “So those factors bumped up wildfire in the rankings. We do have to worry about other high risks, hurricanes, also flooding, as well as a tsunami. Of course, we have lava and earthquakes.”
Health emergencies also got bumped up to higher risk in this edition, in the wake of the pandemic.
Work on the latest update began well before the Maui fires, with public comment taken since last December in a series of public meetings. Amendments can be made annually by HIEMA, the counties and other partners.
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The entire document is more than 1,000 pages, but each major category of potential disasters has its own dashboard page showing how many people and what extent of property is at risk.