Supplier list delayed for disaster-relief food and water

Always Investigating

Heavy rain and floods on Kauai, flooding in East Oahu, lava on the Big Island, and a series of hurricane and storm threats made 2018 a very busy year in terms of disaster preparation and response. Always Investigating learned how much those events sidelined preparation for future disasters.

A critical list of suppliers for food and water right after a disaster has been pushed back one year by the very agency tasked with coordinating emergency responses. It’s a list of who the state can contract with for mass food and water distribution.

Always Investigating has been following up on disaster readiness and recovery issues, including the need for supplementing food and water supplies beyond the current 14-day guidelines even though officials are not ready to increase the official 2-week recommendation.

Last year a resolution passed at the state Capitol required the Hawaii Emergency Management Agency to create a network of contractors that could supply meals, drinks and ice to Hawaii residents, to go beyond the 14-day supply families are asked to stock up themselves.

The list was due in December but HiEMA has asked for a full one-year extension

The HiEMA administrator recently told KHON2 that the state’s disaster preparations need another look not just at supply and food levels but also everything else like shelters, debris removal and power restoration.

“Most of our planning in the state is adequate maybe for a minor category 1 or a tropical storm,” said HiEMA Administrator Tom Travis. “None of it would alleviate all of the bad consequences of a major hurricane.”

HiEMA now wants until December 2019 to turn in the supply contractor list, meaning the next hurricane season could come and go without this extra disaster resource ready.

In asking for an extension, HiEMA cited a string of disasters it had to respond to in 2018. They cited those same incidents in asking for an extension on a false missile alert repor that requires the involvement of multiple state and federal agencies.

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