Learning about the State of Hawaii

What a busy yet exciting day today was.

Bank of America webinar

I started out the day by delivering a webinar to a group of 100+ Bank of America associates who work within the company’s business continuity program.  The webinar I conducted was titled “Business Continuity and Preparedness through Social Media”.  I was very pleased to have the opportunity to present to this group again.  I think it was almost a year ago when I last spoke to them about emergency communications.

Hawaii CERT

Following the webinar, the rest of my day was spent wrapping up the third and final day of our Community Emergency Response Team (CERT) “Train-the-Trainer class.  At the end of the day, 36 more people are now qualified to teach the CERT curriculum.  Congratulations to all.  Tomorrow, we start a two-day CERT Program Manager class.

Hawaii State Civil Defense

The classes we are teaching this week are being sponsored by the Hawaii State Civil Defense office.

Until arriving here in Hawaii, I thought all state agencies across the U.S. had pretty much changed their names (many years ago) from “Civil Defense” to “Emergency Management”.  I was pleasantly surprised to see that Hawaii maintained the “Civil Defense” name that the emergency management field traces its roots to.  Today, we might consider this being “retro”.

There are eight major islands that make up four counties and no two counties are alike.  The Hawaiian language uses short vowels like the word Aloha and there are 8 consonants.   Roads with English names are older and all newer roads have Hawaiian names.  While there are Route numbers, most people in Hawaii don’t use the Route numbers.

Kauai County the smallest county has two islands (Niihau a privately owned island and Kauai made famous in movies from Blue Hawaii, Jurassic Park and Blue Thunder) impacted by Hurricanes Iwa (1982) and Iniki (1992).

The City & County of Honolulu (island of Oahu where I’m at this week) is where 80% of the island’s 1.3 million people live and home to Iolani Palace which was home to the last two reigning Hawaiian monarchs.  Oahu is famous also for its 20 foot surf on the north shore and home to a number of surfing competitions during the winter months.

Maui County is made up of four islands including Kahoolawe which is not inhabited after years of being used for naval target practice.  Molokai was made famous in the James Michener novel as the home to the colony for survivors of Hansen’s disease (leprosy) which today continues to be governed by the Dept. of Health. Lanai is owned by Rupert Murdoch and Maui is home to Haleakala which occasionally has snow.  Can you believe snow in Hawaii???


Hawaii County, or the island of Hawaii, has 11 of the 13 climate zones including the hazards that come with each zone. The island is large enough to fit all of the other seven islands and is home to Kilauea, which is an active volcano that dumps about 40 truckloads of lava per day into the ocean making Hawaii the only state that is growing.  The Hawaii County Civil Defense Agency deals with blizzard, sleet, hail hazards along with the earthquakes, lava and the gasses from the volcano.

As a matter of fact state’s top five hazards include:

•             Hurricane

•             Flash Flood

•             Tsunami – In Hawaii, a tsunami watch will be issued immediately by Pacific Tsunami Warning Center for quakes 7.9 or greater or if tsunami ETA is less than 6 hours.  Additionally, a tsunami warning will be issued whenever a tsunami wave has been confirmed by PTWC or is 3 hours or less from arrival. Respective Civil Defense.  In Missouri, while February is Earthquake Awareness Month, herein Hawaii, April is Tsunami Awareness Month in Hawaii.

•             Earthquake – coming from Missouri and the New Madrid Earthquake Zone, I was interested in learning that thousands of earthquakes occur in Hawaii each year.  They are usually linked to volcanic activity.  The largest earthquake in Hawaii history caused 77 deaths of which 46 deaths were due to tsunami and 31 were due to landslide.

•             Volcano – I was hoping to see a volcano while I was here, but just didn’t have the time.  So, for now, Kilauea is Hawai`i’s youngest volcano and one of the world’s most active. Over 90 percent of Kilauea’s surface is covered by lava less than 1,100 years old. In historical time, all of Kilauea’s eruptions have occurred either in or near its summit caldera, or along the east or southwest rift zones. For the foreseeable future, we can assume that active vents will be limited to these areas.

Mauna Loa (means “Long Mountain”) is the largest volcano on our planet, rising gradually to more than 4 km above sea level.   Its long submarine flanks descend to the sea floor an additional 5 km, and the sea floor in turn is depressed by Mauna Loa’s great mass another 8 km. This makes the volcano’s summit about 17 km (56,000 ft) above its base! The enormous volcano covers half of the Island of Hawai`i and by itself amounts to about 85 percent of all the other Hawaiian Islands combined.

Mauna Loa is among Earth’s most active volcanoes, having erupted 33 times since its first well-documented historical eruption in 1843. Its most recent eruption was in 1984. Mauna Loa is certain to erupt again, and we carefully monitor the volcano for signs of unrest.

Well, I hope you found this informative.  Until tomorrow, be safe and take care.


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