Maui government officials stood firm this week in their decision to not activate the emergency alert system as wildfires spread across the island, and one key official says he doesn’t regret his choice.
Herman Andaya, the head of the Maui Emergency Management Agency, stood firm during a press conference yesterday and boldly refused to admit regret for the decision.
When questioned about it, officials present seemed to become irritated, however, Andaya remained steadfast in his position.
Citing concerns that the emergency sirens are “intended for other purposes,” Andaya pointed to the guidelines provided by the Hawaiian Emergency Management Agency.
On their website, it is stated that “if you are in a low-lying area near the coastline, evacuate to high grounds.” and that many of the sirens are located near the coast.
Andaya went on to explain his rationale, saying that if they had gone ahead and sounded the sirens that night he was afraid that people would have gone mauka (mountainside) and potentially put them in closer proximity to the fire.
Hawaii’s wildfires have been labeled as the most devastating in history and have claimed more than 100 lives to date.
The issue has caused a stir among local and state officials. Many have been critical of the decision to not utilize the emergency siren system as a means of warning the public of the rapidly spreading fires, while other groups believe it could have created an even more dangerous situation.
In regard to the current situation, Mr. Andaya stands firm on his stance, “I am confident in the decision that I have made and would make it again if faced with similar conditions.”
For now, there are teams in place working hard to contain the fires and help the victims affected by the tragedy.
The decision not to activate the emergency alert system has its critics, but in the end, it will be up to the people of Maui and the surrounding communities to decide whether or not it was the right call.
Reporter grills Maui Emergency Operations Chief Herman Andaya over not sounding the alarm on Maui.
Andaya: “The public is trained to seek higher ground in the event that the sirens sounded. If that was the case, then they would’ve gone into the fire.” pic.twitter.com/pkOVEfUVwB
— Citizen Free Press (@CitizenFreePres) August 17, 2023