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Top 10 List Ignores What Affected Most of Us

Thousands without power for days, Waianae Coast residents cut off from the rest of the island, parents scrambling to find babysitters as scores of schools are closed.

What does it take to make the Star-Bulletin's list of the Top 10 Stories of ’07? Maybe what the list tells us is that disruption to the lives of average citizens like December's Kona storm just doesn't register with journalists. Or maybe the inconveniences inflicted on residents have become so routine they don't seem newsworthy.

We're a bit hyper here at CHORE about emergencies, but we have to believe the average person doesn't give a fig about the resignation of the Governor's chief of staff, #8 on the list, or successful missile tests on Kauai, #10. Compare that to having the only highway access to Waianae communities blocked yet again by a wind storm.

Chaos Defined Response to San Francisco Zoo Tragedy; Despite Planning, Execution Is Key

Unless events give a reason to do otherwise, CHORE’s taking a break from these occasional posts for some traveling. As we sign off for 2007, we recommend the recent San Francisco Zoo fiasco as an excellent example of how presumably competent officials can botch an emergency response.

A San Francisco Chronicle story today details the missteps minute by minute, including the declaration of a “Code One” by Zoo security personnel that prevented police and fire department personnel from entering the Zoo to attend to the victims of the tiger mauling!

Read the story and you can’t help wonder whether zoo officials ever rehearsed their emergency plan, which a second Chronicle story examines and concludes had little relevance to what actually went down on Christmas Day.

And that’s the essence of CHORE’s posts over the past 15 months – the necessity to plan for both expected and improbable events and then rehearse every conceivable scenario.

CHORE hopes all your conceivable and inconceivable scena…

Tsunami Anniversary Show Has Nothing New; NOVA Recycles Program Already Shown Twice

PBS’s third anniversary remembrance didn’t advance our understanding whatsoever of what might have been done to save some of those hundreds of thousands of lives that were lost in December 2004.

“The Wave That Shook the World” documentary shown in the NOVA time slot Christmas night was aired twice previously, the first time just three months after the event. All the views expressed in the show therefore are nearly three years old.

CHORE’s sister blog – Tsunami Lessons – has banged away consistently since the massive earthquake and tsunami about the complete absence of a plan to use the international news media to quickly disseminate tsunami warnings to remote populations.

The concept is so logical and so low-tech that it has attracted no support from NOAA and the Pacific Tsunami Warning Center. And that’s a shame – but not nearly as shameful as the lack of foresight and preparation within NOAA that left the Center unprepared to issue a life-saving warning on Christmas Day 2004.

Year-End Review Suggests Some Seemed To Be Open To Criticism, While Others Were Above It

A bright (and quiet) Hawaiian Christmas Day offers reflection time on the state of emergency response in 2007:

• We haven’t had a “big one” this year – a hurricane, tsunami or earthquake (like the October 2006 quake that launched CHORE) to test officials’ and agencies’ ability to respond adequately. Without one – and we’re not wishing for one – we have to take it on faith that civil defense officials have improved their procedures since Earthquake Sunday (see below).
• The “minor one” we did have in early December – a Kona storm with gale-force winds – proved daunting for both Hawaiian Electric Company and the several first-response communicators who were slow in putting what they knew on the airwaves.
• Oahu’s electric utility likely will be under pressure in 2008 to do something relatively dramatic to strengthen its grid on the Waianae Coast. One more episode of fallen polls blocking the only highway access to the coast might be the proverbial back-breaking straw for residents ther…

A “Good Start” Implies More Steps in the Future

CHORE agrees with Honolulu Advertiser columnist Lee Cataluna that Hawaiian Electric’s recent half-page newspaper “apology ad” to Waianae Coast residents was a “good start.”

Since “Helping” is part of CHORE’s charter, we offer this helpful advice: Don’t stop there. We suggested earlier this week that bold steps are needed for HECO to restore its reputation in the area.

Full-on community meetings along the coast would demonstrate the company’s resolve to step up to the criticism and the challenge of improving power reliability in leeward Oahu.

Face-to-face meetings with residents will be infinitely more effective than signed statements published on paper.

Editorials Question Infrastructure’s Adequacy; HECO Can Strengthen Position with Outreach

CHORE first raised questions after last week’s storm about the adequacy of Oahu’s infrastructure, and now both Honolulu newspapers have chimed in editorially, most prominently in today’s Honolulu Advertiser but also in the Star-Bulletin yesterday.

The Advertiser editorial -- “Waianae deserves infrastructure improvements” – noted as we did four days ago that last week’s storm wasn’t even a hurricane and asked its own questions:

“What will happen to isolated areas such as Waianae in the event of a real disaster, like a hurricane? Will HECO's poles collapse again? Will ambulances and other emergency vehicles be able to reach their destinations quickly? Will lack of power hamper residents' ability to get food and water? All of these issues are key to public safety, particularly during a major disaster.”

Hawaiian Electric Company did the right thing after Earthquake Sunday when it briefed the public at the State Capitol on why its system crashed on Oahu. A similar outreach to the pub…

As Power Comes Back, Residents Ask about Radio Coverage, Poles and Undergrounding

It will take more than a few days for yesterday’s questions to be answered about this week’s kona storm. Residents inconvenienced by the loss of power, road blockages and more are adding questions of their own to the list.

A letter in the Honolulu Star-Bulletin is headlined, “Is it finally time to put lines underground?”

“Is it time yet? One dead from a power line dropped on a car. Thousands unable to go to work due to downed lines and poles. Food spoiled. The cost of police handling traffic when lines or poles are down. The costs to individuals, employers, employees, city and state caused by the lack of an effort by Hawaiian Electric to focus on undergrounding grow each time we have even minor storms.”

(The writer implies, as CHORE asserted yesterday, that a relatively minor storm caused this week’s disruption. It’s alarming to think what a category 3 or 4 hurricane could do to this island.)

Hawaiian Electric Company likely will answer “no” to the question. HECO’s position has always …

Case Can Be Made We Deserve Better, and if Not Better, We at Least Deserve Some Answers

It wasn’t a hurricane, so we can’t even call it by name; it’s just the “Kona Storm of December ‘07.” Yet this storm with sub-hurricane-strength wind gusts brought commerce to a halt and left whole communities and tens of thousands of residents without electrical power.

Oceanic Time Warner announced a statewide interruption of all services – Internet telephone, cable TV, email and Internet access itself. Businesses closed and events were cancelled. Downed utility poles isolated communities in the same place where utility poles fell less than two years ago. Dozens of public and private schools, including pre-schools and after-school programs, didn’t open. Bus service throughout Oahu was suspended, temporarily stranding untold numbers of commuters.

Yes, it was windy and trees were uprooted. Roads were blocked, and roofs flew into neighbors’ yards. There's no question it was a strong storm.

But it must be asked: Should a storm with sustained winds far below hurricane strength para…

KSSK Steps Up to Kona Storm’s Emergency; Spokespeople Still Slow with their Response

Last night’s kona storm was as close as we came to a hurricane this year. Utility poles, trees and boulders reportedly blocked streets and highways around Oahu early today as southwesterly wind gusts in the 60-mph range were recorded on Oahu and Molokai.

Oahu’s designated emergency broadcast station, KSSK, has responded well this time. We tuned in shortly after 3:45 a.m. when our neighborhood’s circuit went out (for the sixth time since November 4th).

Christmas music continued to play except for a short “live” newsroom announcement around 4:10, and Mike Perry went “live” at 4:30 and has been going at it nonstop as of this posting.

The station’s newsroom seemed to be fully activated, with personnel breaking in with reports on school closings, highway reports and other newsworthy items. Overall, this was the Michael W. Perry we remembered from Hurricane Iwa 25 years ago – fully engaged and obviously wearing his “emergency hard hat” today.

Where Were the Responders?

What wasn’t as smooth w…

Fatality Update: ‘Corroded’ Insulator Faulted in Power Line Fall; HECO Starts its Inspections

Hawaiian Electric says a “corroded metal internal component within the ceramic insulator” contributed to the insulator’s failure, which caused the line to fall and ignite a fire that killed a Wahiawa man in his parked van three days ago.

Mid-Morning Update: A HECO representative told CHORE this morning that the company began inspecting the Wahiawa grid the day after the 7,200-volt line fell, noting that an insulator failure is extremely rare.

Despite the rarity, CHORE believes a system-wide inspection – even if it only involves spot examination of insulators around the island – would give customers some comfort that the Wahiawa tragedy was more likely a fluke accident and not evidence of a wider problem. The public needs reassurance that the high-powered electric grid above our heads isn’t corroding into disrepair.

Whether the news media will give this story its due is problematic; the Star-Bulletin buried HECO’s statement in its Newswatch column today, and the Advertiser ignored it.

Clos…

Whether a Fluky Accident or Deeper Problem, Power Line Fatality Requires Full Disclosure

You probably never worry about whether the H-1 overpass will flatten your car as you sit at a red light on Nimitz Highway. Overpass failures are so rare we don’t give them a second thought – although last summer’s Minneapolis bridge collapse sometimes crosses our mind.

Same with power lines. We drive under scores if not hundreds of them each time we move around the island. They’re part of the environment that we grudgingly accept, preferring them to be underground when feasible. Power lines are up there, everywhere, and we expect them to stay up there.

When a line does fall, it’s almost always because a pole has been rammed by a car or truck. That we can understand. What’s unsettling is an apparently spontaneous power line fall, like the incident in Wahiawa two days ago that claimed a life.

A van caught fire when hit by a falling 7200-volt line; the occupant suffered third degree burns over 90 percent of his body and died late the same night. A good Samaritan who tried to open the …

Power Line Fall Update: Van Occupant Dies

Yesterday’s incident in Wahiawa that apparently involved a fallen power line has claimed a life. Both the Advertiser and Star-Bulletin have updated their web pages late this morning with this news.

As we suggested earlier today, this tragedy undoubtedly will produce intense scrutiny of Hawaiian Electric Company’s maintenance program – from outside and within.

Latest HECO System Crisis Nearly Kills Two; Multiple Problems Question Grid’s Overall Status

Power outages are one thing, but when equipment failure leaves two innocent people in critical condition, questions must be asked about the general condition of Hawaiian Electric Company’s system.

A man was severely burned when a live 12,000 volt power line fell on his parked van yesterday. A would-be rescuer was shocked and hospitalized in critical condition when he tried to open the van’s door.

According to a HECO spokesman, an insulator holding the line in place had a problem – no further information.

We all live beneath a grid of wires charged with electricity. Now that they’re starting to fall off poles, we have reason to be alarmed.

If this were an isolated incident, yesterday’s emergency might not trigger much concern, but as noted here yesterday, HECO’s system reliability is in a nosedive. We’ve had five outages in our neighborhood since November 4.

Seeing the Big Picture

Numerous outages and failing equipment that nearly killed two people are combining to create a bleak picture …

Another Rain Storm, yet Another Power Outage

Having once called Hawaiian Electric Co. our home away from home, we know it’s no small thing to keep the lights on 100 percent of the time, but what’s with HECO’s reliability these days?

We had another power outage in the early-morning hours today -- our fifth in Waialae since November 4th. It’s gotten to the point that if it rains, we expect to lose electricity, and that can’t be right.

We saw a “trouble truck” leave the vicinity of the Malia Street substation just before 3 a.m. after the power came back. Maybe that was a coincidence, but it’s probable a troubleman corrected some condition or other – an open breaker perhaps – at the substation to restore power.

We always thought Load Dispatch on Ward Avenue could close breakers from a distance using its computer-controlled network. Whatever, the utility’s reliability is in steep decline, and with a wetter than usual winter season predicted, we’re wondering how often we’ll be in the dark.

(11/29 Update: We later bumped into a troublem…

Hawaii Enjoys Trouble-Free Thanksgiving, but San Franciscans Continue Battle over Oil Spill

Residents of the 50th State sometimes think everything is perfect on the other side of the ccean. California does so much so well that it’s almost surprising when officials badly botch an emergency response.

Take the current fight over what went wrong with the big San Francisco Bay oil spill on November 7th. A San Francisco Chronicle page 1 story today covers the verbal battle between the Coast Guard and the City under the headline, “Coast Guard denies calling off S.F. fireboat responding to spill

It serves as a reminder that no matter how confident first responders may be in their emergency capabilities, events can and often do produce a subpar performance thanks to the human factor.

A Better Thanksgiving

A quarter century ago today many Oahu households cooked their turkeys on the BBQ following Hurricane Iwa's visit two days before Thanksgiving. Today, the Honolulu temperature is 76 with mostly sunny skies, the wind is only 10 mph from the northeast and the traditional football g…

Another Power Outage after a Drenching, but Radio Outlet Gives Multiple Updates this Time

Another downpour, another power outage in the Ainakoa neighborhood at the kokohead end of the H-1 freeway. That makes four blackouts in the past 16 days, and we have to wonder what makes rain such a challenge for Hawaiian Electric Company these days.

The challenge of communicating about the outage was overcome this time by KSSK and HECO, however -- a big contrast to the news blackout on November 5th. The outage began at 5 a.m., we called it in by 5:03 and KSSK’s first report was at 5:20.

A report 20 minutes later quoted a HECO spokesperson and said the outage was affecting about 200 homes in Ainakoa. This also was a refreshing change in that we heard nothing from HECO on the designated emergency broadcast station on November 5th.

KSSK said traffic lights at Kalanianaole Highway and Ainakoa weren’t working and repeated the outage and power report at 6 o’clock, just when the lights came back on.

We hope HECO figures out what’s causing these multiple outages, but we have to commend Hawaii…

Column Recalls Iwa’s 25-Year-Old Lessons that More Recent Events Show Have Been Forgotten

We have a commentary in today’s Honolulu Advertiser about emergency response lessons that were lost in the quarter century since our first “modern” hurricane.

CHORE readers are invited to leave comments below with your own remembrances of Hurricane Iwa and what else you think our current crop of crisis communicators should know about emergency response.

Don’t Leave It Up to UH Authorities To Decide if Security Threat Is Dangerous, Says UH Student

Returning to the issue of the University of Hawaii's emergency warning system that we first raised two weeks ago…... The Honolulu Star-Bulletin published a column by a UH student yesterday that's worth a read.

It decries the lack of an adequate campus warning system after someone was overheard threatening to shoot up the campus in late October. Here’s the essence of her argument:

I do not wish to have campus authorities decide whether an incident is potentially dangerous to me. I want to be responsible for determining my own safety by first receiving immediate and adequate notice of potential harm. The man who allegedly made the threat was not apprehended until the following day; therefore, the potential for harm existed while students were in class or in dorms during the period preceding his arrest. This simply is not acceptable.

Both students and UH faculty are speaking out about the lack of an adequate campus-wide warning and are asking for an improved emergency warning sys…

KSSK: Power Outages Reportedly Weren’t Widespread Enough To Mention in the News

We now have additional information about KSSK’s lack of power outage coverage early this morning. CHORE questioned the station's performance today for not mentioning any power outages in its early newscasts, even though outages had been common during the thunderstorms and, according to a Hawaiian Electric recording at its Trouble number (548-7961), they were still happening.

HECO’s message at 4:20 a.m. mentioned 18 communities where outages had been reported. (The list had grown to 26 communities by early this afternoon.) We had no reason to doubt the list’s accuracy; on the contrary, we had reason enough to believe outages were indeed happening in those 18 communities -- from Niu Valley to Mililani Mauka. The reason we called HECO in the first place was that power was out at our home and our entire community of dozens (hundreds?) of other homes.

Except for this: Chuck Cotton, vice president/general manager of Clear Channel Radio Hawaii, told CHORE the following in an email:

“A H…

Power Outages Abound, but KSSK Doesn’t Mention Any of Them in Today’s 1st Newscasts

Have they learned nothing about emergency communications down at Clear Channel? The station’s morning show hosts just did their first newscast of the morning – at 5:10 a.m. instead of 5.

CHORE knows for a fact that power is out in communities all over Oahu. We had to call Hawaiian Electric at 4:20 to report our own outage and heard the list of outages in all sectors.

But Oahu’s primary emergency broadcaster doesn’t mention any of them individually or all of them collectively in their first newscast of the day. Here’s what’s making news this morning at KSSK in the following order:

The Hollywood writers strike • Oprah in South Africa • Nebraska runaways caught in Mexico • Troubles in Pakistan • (moving to local news) Boulders fall into homes • Problems with waste water discharge into ocean • Superferry could change islands’ lifestyle • No whale watchers for Superferry • State to build homeless shelters • Weather – high surf advisory, temperatures….and that’s all, folks.

You really have t…

Resolution Notes 'Insufficient Notice' in Alert

The following resolution has been proposed to the Faculty Senate's Committee on Student Affairs for discussion as "old business" at its next meeting on November 21st:

Whereas on Thursday, Oct 25, 2007 a man was overheard threatening to kill 30 students at the University of Hawaii at Manoa; and,

Whereas the UH-M Chancellor's Office limited its notification of this serious threat to the broadcasting of a text message and an email to the university community; and,

Whereas this limited alert seems to have been insufficient notice in view of the serious nature of the threat in question;

Now be it resolved that the Faculty Senate Committee on Student Affairs affirms the need to find better ways to alert the entire campus community in a timely manner whenever a serious security threat arises.

UH Faculty Senate Committee Asked to Probe Better Emergency Communications on Campus

The University of Hawaii Faculty Senate’s Committee on Student Affairs is expected to discuss “Campus Security” as a new-business agenda item when it meets this afternoon.

A committee member sent the following email two days ago to the committee chair:

As reflected in (the 10/29 Honolulu Star-Bulletin) editorial titled “Get out the alert by any means,” I think the University community needs to ask the UH administration some hard questions about how (the 10/25) security threat was handled. In particular, I agree that, as stated in the editorial, “…An incident at the University of Hawaii at Manoa displays the need for better plans to alert those on campus….”

CHORE is advised that if the committee agrees to take up the issue, it will be discussed in depth at the body’s next meeting on November 21.

We hope that’s the outcome of today’s meeting, as questions raised within the UH community are much more likely to produce improved emergency communications than anything written here or elsewhere…

Star-Bulletin Editorial Supports CHORE’s View: UH Should Use More Communications Channels

The Honolulu Star-Bulletin summarizes its lead editorial today – Get out the alert by any means -- as follows:

"An incident at the University of Hawaii-Manoa displays the need for better plans to alert those on campuses."

Exactly right – as we’ve been saying in our posts since 10/26. The editorial concludes: "While it is difficult to gauge levels of danger without considering each event individually, every person on UH's campuses should be aware of procedures to keep safe." Text messaging, which apparently was the only communications channel UH officials used during last week’s incident, obviously is unable to do that.

Unfortunately, we’ve heard and seen nothing from officials to suggest they are revising their procedures. One could even infer from their public statements so far that they were satisfied with their reliance only on text messaging and apparently no other channels last week.

For the sake of everybody’s personal security on campus, we need to see evi…

With Coincidental Timing, NPR Report Says ‘College Students Decline Text-Message Alerts’

The University of Hawaii’s enthusiasm over the use of text messaging to notify students and faculty about emergencies -- an approach CHORE believes is flawed -- needs rethinking in light of a National Public Radio story today about students' use of TM.

UH seemingly has embraced TM as a “higher-tech” medium to alert the campus community during emergencies. Yet less than 48 hours after Thursday’s incident, today’s report on NPR’s “Weekend Edition Saturday” should give UH security officials pause.

You can listen to the report at the program’s website, which has this summary:

"College administrators are finding that students are not rushing to sign up for cell phone text-message alerts. After the Virginia Tech shootings last spring, many campuses felt this was the answer to keeping their students alert to danger, but students don't share their concerns."

Improving the Crisis Plan

UH’s apparently used only text messaging on Thursday to send its alert about the bus passenger o…

In Starkest Terms, Yesterday’s “Shooter” Alert Was a Failure; UH Needs a Better Crisis Plan

This will be a long post of an email exchange based on today's first commentary here at CHORE on what we believe was an inadequate emergency alert to the University of Hawaii community. The first email is from UH spokesman Gregg Takayama, who responded to our message calling attention to CHORE's first post. Our response to Gregg follows his email:

Hi Doug:

Thanks for your concern about emergency communications at the UH Manoa campus. Just to let you know that the email alert system used yesterday is not the only method of emergency communications available to us. Based on information provided to UH campus security by Honolulu police, it was decided that it was not necessary to cancel classes or halt any planned activities at UH Manoa.

If it was necessary to evacuate buildings or to order people to stay inside and lock their doors, we would have used building PA systems and loudspeakers on campus security vehicles to make the announcements. Loudspeakers were installed on al…

UH’s Email Alert Fails the Efficiency Test; Students Themselves Reveal TM’s Weakness

Yesterday’s security alert at the University of Hawaii raises additional questions about the wisdom of relying on text messaging as the primary way to communicate with students and faculty in an emergency.

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Mid-Morning Update: CHORE wrote to Dr. Francisco Hernandez, UH Vice Chancellor for Students, and received this reply: "We are all concerned about the safety of our students, staff and faculty. I will bring your email to the attention of the officials on campus who have the responsibility of communicating with our campus during these types of situations."
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As reported in the Honolulu Advertiser and the Star-Bulletin, a student overheard a bus passenger talking to himself about shooting 30 students. UH officials sent an email to students and faculty urging caution.

Two-Hour Information Gap

Except for the email, there apparentl…

Advertiser Story Captures a Contrite Attitude Among Key Players in Communications Chain

Having been interviewed by the Honolulu Advertiser for its series on emergency preparedness, we waited for the paper’s delivery wondering how it would play the story. Would it focus on comments from the state’s high-gloss press conference on Saturday or dig deeper? The very first paragraph set our mind at ease:

“Persistent questions remain unanswered about the state’s plan to communicate with residents in the event of another devastating natural disaster such as the Oct. 15 quakes, say critics who complained bitterly about what seemed like an information vacuum during the 24-hour outage following the quakes.”

Paragraph 2 highlighted residents’ upset over State Civil Defense’s delay in allying fears about a possible tsunami. Paragraph 4 mentioned HECO’s two-hour delay in explaining why the power was out throughout Oahu, and the following paragraph questioned how information will be given to residents quickly.

Seeing It the Same Way

It’s clear others share at least some of CHORE’s perspec…

What Exactly Has Been Updated in EAS Plan?

The first “key recommendation” in the CCRC report says the State’s Emergency Alert System Plan has been updated. One year after the 10/15/06 earthquakes and Oahu’s massive island-wide power outage, these words do not appear in the plan update that's available online: “power,” “outage,” “electricity” and “blackout.”

Just what was updated in this plan? That’s another question to be asked at a future public hearing on the CCRC’s report (see below).

Despite Report, Questions about the Human Element Remain Unexamined on Anniversary

The CCRC’s report released to the media two days ago remains unavailable on-line to the public as this is written in early morning on the one-year anniversary of the Big Island earthquakes and Oahu blackout.

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Mid-Morning Update:The CCRC’s report finally was posted online this morning, two days after the committee posted the video of its Saturday press conference. Despite the report's shortcomings (see below,) all citizens concerned about their families’ communications lifeline during an emergency should read it.

First Impressions: Earthquake Sunday last year was a needed wake-up call. The long description of upgrades at the state’s broadcasting stations is impressive, and a number of other improvements undoubtedly enhance emergency communications.

Continuing impression: This report is flawed because the CCRC did not include the public in any organized and meaningful way. One example of where public input is needed is paragr…

Emergency Communications Enhancements Should Be Briefed to the Public for Reaction

There’s still no on-line link today to the Comprehensive Communications Review Committee’s report that was submitted yesterday to the Governor. As we noted in last night’s post, the January 5th draft report was available immediately at the Governor’s website; why the final report isn’t similarly available for public scrutiny is a question an inquiring reporter may wish to ask.

We have to rely on media this morning for details, and the Honolulu Star-Bulletin’s list of “key recommendations for improving emergency communications in the state” apparently summarizes what’s in the report. CHORE was founded in the spirit of Citizens Helping Officials Respond to Emergencies, so let’s take a look at some of the suggestions on that list:

• Update Hawaii Emergency Alert System Plan – That’s definitely a good idea; as CHORE noted 10 days after the 10/15/06 earthquake and power outage, the EAS wasn’t activated until three hours after the emergency began. The Honolulu Advertiser reported that the …

CCRC Report Goes to Governor and News Media, But for the Rest of Us, We’ll Just Have to Wait

The Comprehensive Communications Review Committee has submitted its report and held its news conference, which you can view and read about it at the Governor’s website.

But you can’t read the report there. Unlike the CCRC’s draft report that was posted online in January, the final report isn’t available to the public as of late Saturday the 13th. A report that purportedly details how the public will be better served in future emergencies is not yet available to the public. You could laugh if it weren't so serious.

Of course, this isn’t unusual, since the public has never been party to the committee’s doings. As CHORE noted in a recent post, the committee was a group of insiders who among themselves and without public scrutiny have concluded what’s best for us.

Here’s the official word on the committee’s doings, as presented at Saturday’s press conference by co-chair Lenny Klompus, the Governor’s senior communications advisor and PR man:

“The Committee is very proud of the report …

On the Anniversary of Quake & Blackout Sunday, Do You Feel More Secure or Less Secure?

That’s a political question from another era, but it’s worth asking about emergency readiness as we approach the anniversary of the multiple crisis response failures on October 15, 2006 following a Big Island earthquake.

The Governor-appointed Comprehensive Communications Review Committee (CCRC) is expected to issue its final report this weekend on how to improve future responses. It’s worth recalling some of the lowlights of 10/15/06 and the following months so we can compare the report’s recommendations to what we experienced and later learned about emergency response deficiencies, especially on Oahu.

Living Murphy’s Law

The list of communications-related issues, problems and attitudes that prompted CHORE’s launch and subsequent commentaries begins with the inability to inform citizens of the emergency in a timely manner. (We’ve hyperlinked to CHORE’s earlier posts on these subjects.)

• Power Failure, Communications Failure – As we first noted in a Honolulu Advertiser commentary two …

Details Thin on What CCRC Thinks We Need

If you want to know what really transpired at yesterday’s meeting of the Comprehensive Communications Review Committee (CCRC) – the details of who said what – waiting until mid-October will be a must. You won’t find details in today’s Honolulu Advertiser and Honolulu Star-Bulletin stories.

Stories prepared for the Sunday, October 14th papers will have information on the final report of the CCRC, timed to be released nearly one year after Earthquake Sunday in October 2006.

As for today’s news, this is typical of the reporting:

Meanwhile, media outlets big and small talked about how they plan to get the messages out to the public, many adding or upgrading generators and installing simple land-line phones or satellite phones as an alternative to cell phones.

The sentence is taken from yet another story that gives the appearance of telling us what happened without actually do so. Exactly how do media outlets big and small intend to get the messages out to the public? Which outlets have upgr…

Power Outage Sets Stage for Wrap-up Meeting Of State’s Emergency Communications Body

The Comprehensive Communications Review Committee (CCRC) will hold its first meeting in months today, and to put at least some of us in the mood, the power went out last night in Kaimuki and Waialae-Kahala. It wasn’t a big outage – just a few seconds for many of us and less than an hour for the rest, but you had to laugh at the timing.

The CCRC was formed a couple days after the October 15th earthquakes that triggered a massive power outage on Oahu that lasted for up to 24 hours for some residents and half as long for tens of thousands of others.

CHORE lobbied from the start to open the CCRC to public input and attendance. That never happened, and it’s not happening today for reasons best understood by its leadership.

Coming to a Conclusion

Co-Chair Lenny Klompus called CHORE last week in response to our request to receive an invitation and an expanded agenda, which as we noted last month is without detail in its public version. We had every reason to expect our request would be honore…