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FEMA, state Civil Defense sign catastrophic plans into operation


Hawaii’s State Civil Defense and the U.S. Department of Homeland Security’s Federal Emergency Management Agency have signed into operation catastrophic plans that includes a plan for responding to and recovering from a category four hurricanes that has a direct hit on Oahu. 

FEMA Regional Administrator Nancy Ward and Hawaii Civil Defense Director Major General Robert G. F. Lee signed the documents earlier this month at the media center at the State Civil Defense Annex in Diamond Head Crater.  

“These documents now form a foundation of additional plans that will guide federal and state agencies in responding to a host of challenges,” Ward said. “The completion of these documents was possible only through the leadership and presence these organizations provided.

The development and testing of the CONPLAN and OPLAN also represents an “emergency response first” following Hawaii’s agreement to be the first state in the nation to engage in a joint planning exercise that fully employees the FEMA Integrated Planning System (IPS), which is scheduled to become a national template for joint federal/state and local disaster planning.

Several months ago, Hawaii State Civil Defense and FEMA, along with local, private sector and federal agencies began to work together to prepare Hawaii with a plan that deals with all types of disasters such as hurricanes, floods, earthquakes, volcanic eruption and others.  

The CONPLAN details the “rules of engagement” between federal and state partners for response to any catastrophic event in Hawaii.

Going a step further, work began on a second document, a draft Operations Plan or OPLAN.  This document takes a scenario based on a category 4 hurricane that hits the island of Oahu and generates strategies for providing federal and state support to such an incident.  

The OPLAN also provides an executable schedule to rapidly deploy resources in a time-constrained environment, thereby alleviating the gap between the initial requests and actual delivery of resources and assistance to the people of Hawaii.  

In June, FEMA and the State participated in the three-day Makani Pahili exercise to test the hurricane plan and applied lessons learned to finalize the plan. Last month, they were able to test the plan for a real-world response when Hurricane Felicia headed toward the islands.

“These planes represent a cooperative effort by a team of experts in state, local federal, non-governmental organizations and private sector, working together to prepare Hawaii for a category four hurricane,” said Ward.  “I’m so pleased with the effort that’s gone into preparing these plans and very confident in our ability to execute them.

“These plans are ‘living documents’ that will continuously be updated,” Lee said. “They will serve us not only in dealing with hurricanes and other tropical cyclones, but also potential man-made disasters, including terrorism.”

FEMA’s mission is to support our citizens and first responders to ensure that as a nation we work together to build, sustain, and improve our capability to prepare for, protect against, respond to, recover from, and mitigate all hazards.

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