In Hawaii we tend to focus on disaster preparation for hurricane season, from June through November. However, we all know that a disaster of any kind can happen at any time.
A new proposal would require new condominiums to have disaster plans in place before they are needed.
Some disasters can be predicted, like when hurricanes appear in weather forecasts. Other disasters, like the Marco Polo fire, catch everyone off-guard.
A new bill by state Representative Cynthia Thielen, co-signed by Representative Gregg Takayama, would require new condominiums to create disaster preparedness plans before the beginning of next year. Takayama says the law would apply equally to low-rise, affordable developments and high-rise, luxury condos.
“I think they need to plan ahead as to where their residents should go, what provisions would be made for their shelter and their sustenance. These things need to be planned ahead of time.”
The bill requires plans for a range of disasters. Plans must provide for safe evacuation of all residents, including those with limited mobility and special medical needs; provide for alternative shelter; and a strategy to provide food for residents who are unable to return to their homes for extended periods of time as a result of the disaster.
The bill does not require condo associations themselves to provide emergency food.
Takayama says, “the bill simply says that they ought to take food supplies and other supplies into consideration in developing a disaster preparedness plan and I think that’s a common sense approach.”
Ray De Smet is general manager of the 466-unit Ae’o in Kakaako and serves on the board of the Hawaii Chapter of IREM, a professional organization for real estate managers.
De Smet says such planning will be relatively easy for new buildings, which have sprinklers, public address systems tied to fire safety systems, emergency generators and battery back-ups, for instance.
He says the bill is a good development and would like lawmakers to include tools and guidance to aid in the creation of disaster preparedness plans.
Takayama says no taxpayer money would be used to fund the proposal that will be the subject of a hearing Wednesday morning at the Capitol.
Disaster preparedness planning resources include, among others: