Skip to comments.Maui's Emergency Chief Resigns Amid Criticisms Over Wildfires Siren Failure
Posted on 08/18/2023 8:13:54 AM PDT by SeekAndFind
A day after expressing no regrets for not sounding the sirens during Lahaina's deadly wildfires, the head of the Maui Emergency Management Agency has stepped down.
The death toll from the fires that swept through Maui on Aug. 8 reached 111 on Thursday. They have become the deadliest fires in the United States in more than a century. Hundreds, maybe thousands, of people remain missing.
The cause of the wildfires across parts of Maui is under investigation. Lahaina, a historic town in western Maui that was home to more than 12,000 people, was worst hit, and has now been reduced to a barren wasteland.
Herman Andaya, who had been the Maui Emergency Management Agency administrator since 2017, resigned on Aug. 17 for "health reasons," according to a Facebook post from Maui County. The resignation is effective immediately.
Maui County Mayor Richard Bissen said in a statement he will be "placing someone in this key position as quickly as possible" and hopes to make the announcement soon.
The abrupt resignation comes after Mr. Andaya on Aug. 16 said he had no regrets in the decision not to sound sirens while wildfires engulfed Lahaina and several other areas on the island.
Hawaii boasts the largest system of outdoor alert sirens in the world, for a variety of dangers including wars, volcanoes, hurricanes, and wildfires.
Mr. Andaya asserted that the sirens are typically reserved for tsunami warnings, and had never been used in the situation of wildfires. He also explained that Hawaiians are trained to seek higher ground when the sirens are set off, and in this case, it would have likely prompted residents to move toward the approaching flames.
"We were afraid that people would have gone [toward the mountains or inland],” he said on Aug. 16.
“If that was the case then they would have gone into the fire.”
"I should also note that there are no sirens [on the mountainside] where the fire was spreading down," Mr. Andaya asserted.
"So even if we sounded the siren, we would not have saved those people out there on the mountainside."
Mr. Andaya on Wednesday vigorously defended his qualifications for his role as Maui's emergency chief. He said that while he was not appointed to the position, he had been vetted, took a civil service exam, and was interviewed by seasoned emergency managers.
He also said he had previously been deputy director of the Maui County Department of Housing and Human Concerns and had been chief of staff for former Maui County Mayor Alan Arakawa for 11 years. During that time, he said, he often reported to “emergency operations centers” and participated in numerous trainings.
Mr. Arakawa, meanwhile, said he was disappointed by the resignation “because now we’re out one person who is really qualified.” The former Maui County mayor said that Mr. Andaya was vetted for the job by the county’s personnel service.
“He was trying to be strong and trying to do the job,” Mr. Arakawa said about the wildfire response. “He was very, very heartbroken about all the things that happened.”
Hawaii Attorney General Anne Lopez said earlier on Aug. 17 in a statement that an outside organization will conduct “an impartial, independent” review of the government’s response and officials intend “to facilitate any necessary corrective action and to advance future emergency preparedness.” The investigation will likely take months, she added.
President Joe Biden vowed on Thursday the federal government would commit to helping the people of Maui recover, rebuild, and grieve.
In a brief video aired on ABC's "Good Morning America," President Biden said the federal government had already sent hundreds of emergency personnel, thousands of meals, and essential supplies such as cots and blankets to the devastated town.
"We will be with you for as long as it takes, I promise you," he said.
He is due to visit the island to survey the damage and meet with survivors on Aug. 21.
Survivors who have been displaced are taking refuge in hotels that are prepared to provide shelter and various services for them, according to Brad Kieserman, vice president for disaster operations with the American Red Cross.
“We will be able to keep folks in hotels for as long as it takes to find housing for them,” Mr. Kieserman said at a media briefing.
“I am confident we’ll have plenty of rooms.”
Service providers at the hotels will offer meals, counseling, financial assistance, and other disaster aid.
Contracts with the hotels will last for at least seven months but could easily be extended, Mr. Kieserman said.
He noted that hotels are also available for eligible evacuees who have spent the last eight days sleeping in cars or camping in parking lots.
Hawaii Gov. Josh Green has said at least 1,000 hotel rooms will be set aside. In addition, AirBnB said its nonprofit wing will provide properties for 1,000 people.
Would it have made much difference?..............
I read where he resigned due to health reasons.
People were sick to death of his incompetence.
mayor and governor should resign also
The sirens supposedly would have sent people into the path of the fire.
This thing was horrible and clearly the area wasn’t prepared for a wildfire.
This guy will be a scapegoat, probably unfairly.
Sounds like internet and cell towers were out, not good way to get warnings to people.
Costly lessons will be learned
Followed shortly thereafter by seppuku, perhaps.
They’re going to need a bigger bus for the scapegoats ...
The important thing is he wasn’t a ha’ole.
So, this numbnutts had been in the job for years but had never “redesigned” the alarms so that one is for tsunami and two is for fire?
Sending any type of alarm, text/crappola, that depends upon a working cell phone is asinine. That is the first communication link that dies.
Also note that another TWOT refused to release water to the fire dept until it was hours too late.
All I’ve seen about the politicos of Ha is Hirono. That explains all of this.
We have allowed every level of government to become a haven for morons.
“Would it have made much difference?”
Couldn’t have hurt.
I heard he said he didn’t use the sirens because they are for tsunamis. An evac siren is an evac siren regardless of what the emergency is......another affirmative action hire with no clue as to how to do the job perhaps?
IMO he was negligent and should face criminal charges.
It would be smart to also demand the resignations of those who put this yo yo in office. You don’t get incompetent hires from a competent administration.
The sacrificial lamb
“would be smart to also demand the resignations of those who put this yo yo in office. You don’t get incompetent hires from a competent administration.”
Absolutely. When my community burned, they had 6 hours to warn us that were in it’s path. The woman in charge of emergency management decided since it was mostly senior CITIZENS in retirement parks, they might get confused if warned. The fire was on top of us and we ran with nothing. She still has her job. No one is concerned except me, I am told.
Imagine the treasures and history, firearms lost in all those homes of conservative old people like me. Being in September of 2020, it certainly destroyed our ability to support Trump in the election.it was near impossible to get a ballot without an address. I think I bought 3 mailboxes before the refugee crap was over.
Strangely, everything on I 5 burned except leftist Ashland.
Just a coincidence, I am SURE, that BLM/Antifa had been camping in a local park harassing locals.
The night of the fire, waiting and crying, parked in a grocery lot, I was approached by several black garbed goons on motorcycles who objected to my Trump bumper stickers. Thankfully, I managed to get some protection as I ran from my home. I was NOT IN THE MOOD FOR POLITICAL CORRECTNESS.
That’s just wrong. They’d have gone outside their houses, seen the fire, and then tried to get away. They might not have been successful, but at least it would have given them a chance. It’s nonsense to claim that had they raised the alarm, people would have mindlessly run to the smoke and fire.
What about the guy responsible for turning on the water too late??? Total Democrat Incompetents!
“ It’s nonsense to claim that had they raised the alarm, people would have mindlessly run to the smoke and fire. ”
Maybe so, maybe not.
We weren’t there.
What happened was really bad, it’s easy to sit from a distance and think we have answers, we don’t at this point .
Having cell and internet down would hamper a proper response.
I will wait to hear more from the people who lived there .
Should be arrested for MURDER
He had no emergency administration experience. This was a cushy political appointment for him.
Prior to being appointed to this position, he was the Chief-of-Staff of the mayor of Maui at the time. They defended appointing him despite his lack of experience by saying that he took online training classes.
Hawaii is run by the most incompetent idiots who see everything through racial lines. I don’t see how it remains a functioning state.
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