By: Diane Ako
HONOLULU (KHNL) - Floods, tsunamis, hurricanes, terrorism: are you ready for an emergency? September is "national preparedness month," and the state wants to teach you how to prepare for a disaster.
Last year's disastrous floods cost the state and private sectors millions of dollars in damage, some of which has not been fixed yet, like the rockslide that shut down round top drive. "The property damage estimates for infrastructure like roads, trail systems, and even agriculture, was about $25 million," says Vice Director of State Civil Defense Ed Teixeira.
Could that have been lessened with some preparation? It can't hurt to try. That's why the state is joining the Department of Homeland Security's push to get citizens to stay prepared. "We're still in hurricane season and then in a month we'll start wet season in Hawaii. It's a good time to call attention to being prepared for any disaster, whether for hurricane, tsunami, or manmade hazard," says Teixeira.
The push focuses on businesses, homes, schools, and people who speak English as a second language. The State Civil Defense is working with the schools to test its alarm systems. Also, says Teixeria, "We're working with radio station KZOO on broadcasting our Emergency Alarm System in Japanese come our Siren Test Day."
This came about after the October 2006 Hawaii Island earthquake. "Many of our Japanese visitors really didn't have enough information on what was happening that particular day," says Teixeira.
Soon, the state hopes to add a second radio station to its roster, to reach more minorities. "KNDI, that can broadcast in 12 languages, to do more in public service announcement and disaster emergency announcements, so we keep as many of our visitors and local population for whom English is a second language, keeping them informed," says Teixeira.
Keeping ready: a good drill to practice not just during one month of the year. "Preparedness is an everyday responsibility for us," says Teixeira.
"It is vital that Americans take steps to prepare for emergencies at home, work or school," said Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff. "Personal preparedness is paramount to effectively reacting to the effects of a disaster. By preparing yourself, your family, and your businesses, you allow first responders to prioritize efforts and aid."
For the first time, the month will focus on different areas of emergency preparedness.
September 1-8; Back-to-School (Ready Kids)
September 9-15; Business preparedness (Ready Business)
September 16-22; Multicultural preparedness (Listo)
September 23-30; Home and family preparedness, including pets, older Americans and individuals with disabilities and special needs (Ready America)
Homeland Security Committee members, Sens. Joe Lieberman and Susan Collins, and Reps. Bennie Thompson and Peter King, have agreed to serve as honorary Congressional co-chairs of National Preparedness Month 2007 and lead the effort to increase public awareness on the importance of emergency preparedness on Capitol Hill.