State Lawmakers Prepare for Next Disaster

DOT Director Barry Fukunaga
DOT Director Barry Fukunaga
Rep. Bob Herkes
Rep. Bob Herkes
An earthquake on October 15, 2006 caused a blackout on Oahu which shut down Honolulu International Airport
An earthquake on October 15, 2006 caused a blackout on Oahu which shut down Honolulu International Airport

HONOLULU (KHNL) -- The blackout following October's earthquake knocked out much of the power at Honolulu International Airport.

So now the state said it plans to lease generators for emergency power. Building a back-up power system at the airport is a long-term project with a cost of $150 million.

"The system that's at the airport now is really intended for life safety," said Barry Fukunaga, state transportation director. "So it provides maybe 15 percent of the power that would otherwise be needed for the total operation of the airport."

State lawmakers are looking at creating a special disaster preparedness fund.

"I think the flooding that has happened, I think the earthquake on Oct.15 has been a wake up call to say we have to deal with this issue," said Rep. Bob Herkes (D-Puna-North Kona.)

The state Department of Defense would use the fund to retro-fit shelters, purchase early warning systems, provide emergency medical supplies and manage other disaster readiness programs.

"We're a very vulnerable state, we have every natural disaster that's known," Herkes said. "We just have to be better prepared and we're not prepared now."

Advocates of people with disabilities said they're being left out of the state's disaster plans.

"I think the state was blessed that we didn't have more damage than we did, said Patricia Lockwood of the Hawaii Centers for Independent Living. "That's the only reason we didn't have loss of life of people with disabilities."