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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE                                     October 16, 2006

Release No. M-104-06

 

MAYOR URGES CONTINUED ROAD CAUTION AND WATER CONSERVATION

 IN WAKE OF EARTHQUAKE AND BLACKOUT

 

            Mayor Mufi Hannemann today urged motorists to exercise caution while the City completes restoring service to Oahu’s 800 intersections with traffic signals.  He also asked the public to continue conserving water as the Board of Water Supply operations return to normal.

           

            “Yesterday, October 15, 2006, was an ordeal for everyone. The tremors were enough to raise concern among all who felt them. That was followed by concerns about a tsunami and then the lack of power,” said Hannemann. “Things are returning to normal, but we’re not there yet.

           

            “We know a lot of people are being inconvenienced by the fact that not all of our traffic signals are working. We are working to resolve that, even as Hawaiian Electric is trying to complete restoring its service. We’re also still replenishing Oahu’s water supplies,” said Hannemann. “We’re asking for a little more of the aloha that so many people exercised yesterday. That aloha helped dampen the effects of the earthquake and blackout.”

           

            Hannemann returned to Honolulu this morning after curtailing an official visit to Korea. In addition to praising the public for its cooperation, the mayor said, “We thank the hundreds of City employees who answered the call yesterday. They included our first responders – police, fire, emergency medical and Civil Defense personnel – and a host of other City departments. They performed professionally and appropriately and helped Oahu avoid an incident that could easily have been far worse.”

 

Many City departments and agencies responded. They include:

 

·       Oahu Civil Defense Agency: Activated its emergency operations center immediately after the earthquake occurred and staffed it throughout the day and night. Among its first tasks was coordinating inspections of Oahu’s four major dams to ensure the earthquake had not damaged them structurally. The agency also began informing State Civil Defense about City responses to the quake and power outage. Representatives of City agencies and private organizations, including the Red Cross and the Healthcare Association of Hawaii, reported to the EOC  and coordinated efforts throughout the day and evening. Hawaiian Electric Co. personnel also staffed the EOC throughout the day, and other HECO officials went to the EOC regularly to brief acting Mayor Mary Pat Waterhouse and other City officials.

 

·       Honolulu Police Department: The quake occurred minutes after the department’s first watch (or shift) ended. All of those officers were recalled to duty. They and second-watch officers provided traffic control at hundreds of intersections, as well as handled security and routine duties. Officers of the third watch, which normally starts at 2:20 p.m., were asked to report at 10 a.m. and were deployed for traffic control and other duties. Plainclothes officers were also brought in to stand by overnight to respond as needed. No major incidents were reported overnight. The first watch was kept over this morning to provide extra staffing to help with the recovery.

 

·       Honolulu Fire Department: Responded to more than 50 calls for persons trapped in elevators immediately following the quake. A special training class was cancelled in order to provide full staffing. As the lack of electricity reduced water pressure in some areas, the department redeployed two of its tanker trucks (from Wahiawa and Waipahu) to town. In addition, a federal fire tanker truck and an Air Force tanker from Hickam deployed in town to ensure sufficient supplies of water for firefighting. Two of those tanker trucks responded to last night’s 7:30 p.m. house fire in Kuliouou, in which one woman died.

 

·       Emergency Services Department:  Adjusted its services to accommodate limited service at several Oahu hospitals. Trauma cases were taken to Tripler Army Medical Center for most of the day because it was the only facility that could perform CT scans and other vital services. As the day went on and power remained off, the Emergency Medical Services division responded to a high volume of calls from people for assistance with special needs concerns at home, such as home oxygen therapy and home dialysis treatment. Ocean Safety staff delivered food, radios and generators to their EMS colleagues.

 

·       Environmental Services:  Emergency generators at most facilities picked up the load  when power went out following the quake. Two spills of partially treated wastewater were reported: An estimated 15,500 gallons at Wahiawa, where the outage knocked the ultraviolet disinfecting unit out of service briefly, and at the Sand Island Wastewater Treatment Plant, where an estimated 1,200 gallons overflowed from a clarifier. Hawaiian Electric service to the facility was restored yesterday evening. The Federal Emergency Management Agency was arranging to deploy a generator at Sand Island, as a precaution.  

·       Department of Transportation Services: Traffic signal employees worked through the night, restoring service to traffic signals as power was restored. Because of the duration of the power outage, many signals defaulted to flashing lights as power returned. Meanwhile, the Traffic Management Control Center spent all day and much of the evening operating on emergency generators. Buses kept operating.

 

·       Board of Water Supply: Limited generator power prompted the board to take down the water level at some reservoirs. As the day went on, some areas of Honolulu reported low water pressure. By mid-evening, that was being reversed as power was restored to pump stations.

 

·       Department of Information Technology: Supported the public safety radio systems and EOC.

 

·       Department of Facility Maintenance: Provided support for DIT when two backup generators did not kick in. These went into battery operation until DFM was able to get out and determine why the generators did not kick in.  Provided a person to assist DTS with traffic signals today. Conducted preliminary damage assessment of City facilities.

 

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Media contacts:

            Bill Brennan, 527-2968

            Mark Matsunaga, 527-5767   

Monday, October 16, 2006

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