City finds strengths, flaws in crisis plan
Two councilmen want assessments done on fixing traffic signals
Heavy rain, flooding and other catastrophic events that hit Oahu during the past year prepared the city to respond to Sunday's earthquakes and islandwide power failure, Mayor Mufi Hannemann and members of the City Council said.
"We have a plan in place, we executed it and it went very well," said the mayor, who cut short a trip to Korea after the earthquakes hit.
"I certainly hope that every one of these incidents that we go through, whether it's an earthquake or a big rain or whatever it might be, that we continue to learn, that we see what problems we run into and we fix a few more pieces as we go along," City Councilman Todd Apo said.
Apo and Councilman Charles Djou said that while Oahu was lucky that the disaster hit on a not-so-busy Sunday morning, the island nevertheless performed well.
"If there were a day for a disaster like that to occur -- a day and time -- it was probably the best," Djou said. "Civil Defense did a good job, and I think things, at least on Oahu, seemed to have gone well."
Apo and Djou said one of the things the city would likely want to assess is how it responded to getting hundreds of traffic signals back on line after the power failure knocked them out.
At 150 intersections, traffic signals were still not working properly as of 9 a.m. yesterday.
By 4:30 p.m. yesterday the city completed work at 785 of 800 signalized intersections and estimated completing the remaining 15 before today's morning rush hour.
"We have to manually go out there and actually redo every one, and it's the controller that we have to manually reset," said Melvin Kaku, city Department of Transportation Services director.
Kaku said there were a couple of obstacles in getting the signals running.
"One was in the programming, and in some cases because of the power outage, it actually fried some of our circuitry," Kaku said. "The reprogramming of the circuitry is also required if it's burnt."
Three waste-water incidents -- two spills at the Wahiawa and Sand Island treatment plans and a sewage bypass at the Kailua plant -- were caused by the power failure, but the city appeared ready this time to deal with the problems, Apo said.
"When you combine a power outage with a decent amount of rain -- which is what we had (Sunday) -- there's always the danger of something bigger ... happening," Apo said.
"Our people were on it, and we were able to minimize that," Hannemann said.
The mayor said Sunday's event also showed the need for the city to play a greater role in disseminating information about disasters on Oahu to speed up getting that information to the public, some of whom complained on the radio that it took a long time to get definitive reports from officials.