$21.6 million for disaster plan sought
Retrofitting buildings and upgrading shelters are among the items in Lingle's proposal
Gov. Linda Lingle is proposing that the state spend $21.6 million to beef up Hawaii's civil defense and emergency preparedness, calling the plan "the most important and comprehensive" initiative of her governorship.
Here are the cost items in Gov. Linda Lingle's new $21 million emergency preparedness plan:
» $4 million to identify, upgrade and retrofit existing state buildings, including providing emergency generators.
» $3.7 million in tax credits to private building owners, such as hotels, to upgrade their buildings.
» $2 million to reimburse homeowners for up to 35 percent of their costs to install wind-resistant devices on homes to protect against hurricanes.
» $400,000 for a hazard-awareness program in public schools and for senior citizens, care-home providers and hospitals.
» $700,000 to update tsunami inundation maps.
» $1 million to buy emergency supplies such as blankets, flashlights, bottled water and first-aid kits to be stockpiled throughout the state.
» $2.1 million to build a 130-foot radio tower on the Big Island to provide a radio link between Hilo, Kona and the rest of the state.
» $4 million to harden emergency shelters in schools. Some of the money would go to build secure areas where people may bring their pets in case of an emergency evacuation.
» $1.2 million to install new sirens.
» $2 million to provide 24-hour staffing and operations for state civil defense operations.
Under her proposal to the 2006 Legislature, the state would pay for the improvements by using some of the $6 million a year in interest earned in the state's Hurricane Emergency Relief Fund. The state now puts that interest in the state treasury and spends it on other programs.
"The cost of preparedness is far less expensive than the alternative," said Maj. Gen. Robert Lee, state adjutant general.
Lingle has already called for spending an additional $15 million to buy 250,000 doses of antiviral medication in preparation for a possible bird flu pandemic.
The emergency response plan that Lingle announced yesterday was divided into three parts: preventing or mitigating hazards, preparing for emergencies and recovering from disasters.
Under the plan, state buildings would be retrofitted to be used as shelters, counties would be urged to upgrade county facilities and private property owners would get a tax credit for retrofitting their buildings.
Also, $4 million would be spent to upgrade existing shelters and to provide special areas where pet owners could bring their pets during an emergency evacuation.
Besides the extra money, Lingle wants the Legislature to toughen the laws regarding looting or attacking a civil defense or law enforcement official during an emergency.
Lingle repeated her call to put first responders such as police, fire, civil defense and paramedics into a separate collective bargaining unit, saying that it did not make sense for them to be in the same collective bargaining unit as government secretaries and clerical staff.
Also at yesterday's news conference, the National Weather Service recognized Hawaii as the first state to be designated tsunami- and storm-ready. David Johnson, director of the weather service, presented Lingle with a plaque that recognized Hawaii's honor.
To achieve the weather service's tsunami- and storm-ready status, a community must:
» Establish a 24-hour emergency operations center.
» Have more than one way to receive severe-weather warnings and forecasts.
» Create a system that monitors local weather conditions.
» Promote the importance of public readiness through community seminars.
» Develop a formal hazardous-weather plan, which includes training severe-weather spotters and holding emergency exercises.
"I want to try to get every vulnerable coast community in America to follow Hawaii's lead to become storm-ready, first of all, and tsunami-ready to be able to help protect our citizens better," Johnson said.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.