HONOLULU (KHON2) — A new facility on Oahu is already relaying information to help recovery efforts in Guam, even though Hawaii is almost 4,000 miles away.
The Federal Emergency Management Agency gave a tour of their new emergency broadcast studio on Wednesday, May 24; but the hope is that locals never need to use it.
The footprint of the studio itself is small, but it is quite a tank.
It is engineered to keep broadcasting before, during and after natural emergencies like hurricanes and tsunamis. The station is even made to withstand man-made catastrophes.
“This thing is designed to protect against high-altitude electromagnetic pulse, EMP. So, this is EMP protected. it is also chemical, biological, radiological and nuclear protected.,” said FEMA National Public Warning System project manager Manny Centeno.
FEMA said their first mission for the broadcast station is to provide capability for the president to communicate with the public in any type of emergency.
“And then secondly, to ensure that our State and local officials knew that they, or know that you have a resource here in your community that can be utilized as a critical communications lifeline when other forms of communication are impacted,” said FEMA Integrated Public Alert and Warning System director Antwane Johnson.
Officials had everyone do a thought experiment: Imagine Hawaii with no power, no water, no cell phones or landlines, closed airports and blocked shipping lanes.
“You would want someone to tell you where to get food and water and diapers for your kids, insulin for your grandmother,” Centeno said.
The hope is that the facility never needs to be used, but there is enough fuel and food for two operators to stay there comfortably for two months in the case of a disaster.
“There would be long hours of operation,” Centeno said. “So, here’s an area of the shelters where you can take a nap. There are also sanitary facilities underneath this fold-down bed.”
Officials said the opening of the facility comes at a perfect time as cleanup is underway in Guam.
“We are relaying signals and communications to Guam right now through here,” Centeno said. “In order for us to get to the other side of the world from the mainland of the United States, we need to make a hop here and then bring it back up to get it to Guam and American Samoa.”
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The station will be on standby when there is not an emergency; but if it is needed locally, it can be listened to on radios across the state on AM 1500.