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LETTERS for September 29 issue

By Staff | Sep 29, 2016

West Maui needs a disaster command center

On Saturday, Sept. 10, I attended the West Maui Disaster Preparedness Expo. There were exhibits and presentations from the agencies that protect us during and after a disaster. I came away with the distinct fact that there is a lack of necessary integration to inform the right hand of what the left hand is doing in many cases. Much as with Homeland Security, we need to have one command center directing the pertinent agencies. It was concerning to know how vulnerable we remain; hence the importance of creating an expansive action plan that would better equip us in the event of a disaster.

One memorable example occurred during the last big fire in our area. The one road access out of West Maui was closed for many hours as fire swept our highway. All phones, including landline and cellular, were inoperable, which prevented even emergency communication with 911 or police, fire or ambulance services. The Red Cross valiantly attempted to serve 159 people at the Lahaina shelter with only two volunteers, because others could not be reached. An alternative communication model is imperative.

Also, as I understand it, Civil Defense instructs the Red Cross concerning the locations to open as shelter. During the last hurricane alert, Red Cross was told to open the Lahainaluna High School cafeteria, despite the fact that the cafeteria’s glass walls made it a poor selection for high wind and rain in my estimation. During the last tsunami alert, we at the Red Cross were told to open the Lahaina Civic Center, which is only a few feet higher than sea level.

The fact is we have few structures in West Maui suitable for a hurricane shelter. Our public elementary school in Lahaina, King Kamehameha III, is located on the seashore; its student evacuation plan calls for them to be marched across the highway to the park adjacent to the aquatic center. Should a disastrous tsunami be generated from the Big Island, its devastating wave surge would hit our shores in about 17 minutes. Should this occur during school hours, our most precious keiki and teachers could be lost, since we understand all need to be at least at an elevation of 400 feet to be safe. Surely serious consideration of a proposal to build a new elementary school located mauka and suitably high enough to be safe is needed. The current school could be sold to help fund a new air-conditioned elementary school.

One persistent safety obstacle is the one road to the West Side. It can take up to two hours to drive the route during peak travel times. When there is an accident or a fire that closes the road for hours, our safety and our economy are impacted significantly. This is a public safety and an environmental issue.

Should we have a tsunami and be unable to use our road, we could be isolated indefinitely with no access to a hospital or supplies, including food, water and medications. Hawaii has only a four-day supply of food and bottled water. Supplies would presumably need to be airlifted in, since West Maui does not have a deep sea harbor. I support realignment of our highway with a new road to be constructed above the existing Pali, away from the seashore. This new highway would not need seawalls, helping to save our cultural and recreational areas so important to our community. Funds to temporarily patch the existing situation could be expended on a permanent solution. The federal government will help fund our new highway, providing it is not in a tsunami zone. To help pay for our new road, I suggest we establish a public-private partnership to construct our new highway, which would initially be a toll road using a monthly payment card that can be electronically read while driving under the reader, meaning no need to stop. Any not wanting to pay can use the existing road. Once our new road is paid for, we would then make it free for all. The old highway would be converted to parks, bike paths, walking path, recreational areas and grassy areas. This will enhance our lifestyle while attracting visitors who would love these positive changes so desperately needed.

Our elected leaders need to act to make public safety a priority. Currently, only 4 percent of our state budget is spent on public safety. Surely we hold our ‘ohana to be of greater value? All agree that someday we will have a disaster. Let us not live to regret things we did not do more than things we did. We need to be more proactive before it is too late.

Let’s never have to say “if only.” As your newly elected State House member representing West Maui, District 10, my first priority will be the safety of our community. I will be standing up for you; will you stand up for me on election day?



Organ Transplant Maui appreciates the MHLA’s support

(The following letter was sent to the Maui Hotel & Lodging Association.)

On behalf of Organ Transplant Maui (OTM), we would like to send a warm aloha and mahalo from our nonprofit organization to yours. Your generous monetary grant will help OTM with our support group meetings. On the first Saturday of each month, we invite organ transplant recipients, living organ donors, caregivers and those who want to come and learn more about organ transplants. All of our OTM members have been through this themselves and have been able to share their stories to help and support others facing this challenge in their lives. Currently our support group has two kidney recipients, a liver recipient, three kidney donors, two caregivers and a nephrology nurse. Your grant will also be used to assist OTM as we participate in various Maui County health fairs and workshops to promote community awareness and education on organ transplantation.

Words cannot express how much we appreciate the generosity from the Maui Hotel & Lodging Association and its members to receive this grant. Maui’s nonprofit organizations are so fortunate to participate and enjoy team bonding in your annual Charity Walk each year. Mahalo to your association’s commitment to help other nonprofit organizations, such as ours, be able to continue volunteering in our community and share our passion to help others. Thank you very much.

KATS ANDERSON, President and a Kidney Organ Donor


Calling all U.S. Merchant Mariners

We need your help! As time passes, our nonprofit nationwide veterans’ organization, originally established by WWII Merchant Mariners, needs former and present Merchant Mariners in our membership to help keep our vital maritime history alive and to assist us in achieving our goals, which include earning veteran’s status for post-WWII conflict mariners. Membership qualifies you for an informative quarterly magazine that will keep you up-to-date with our progress toward these goals.

If you are an active U.S. Merchant Mariner, or are a widow or descendant of same, and would like additional information about membership, please contact American Merchant Marine Veterans; check us out at www.ammv.us, call Sindy Raymond at (707) 546-6349 or e-mail her at saaren@sonic.net.

We appreciate any assistance you can give us in our quest for new members.

SINDY RAYMOND, National Office Administrator