Elected officials from Aiea and Pearl City will be hosting a community meeting on disaster preparedness and H1N1 flu issues. The meeting is scheduled for Thursday, April 15, 2010 from 7:00 to 8:30 p.m. at the Waimalu Elementary School Cafeteria.
The Department of Defense will explain how to prepare effectively for disasters such as tsunamis, earthquakes, hurricanes, floods, etc. In addition, the Department of Health will discuss issues related to the H1N1 flu, including its symptoms, outcomes, and preventive measures.
Lawmakers are holding this meeting so that community members stay informed about the types of issues and events that affect their lives; preparing for a disaster being at the top of the list given the recent tsunami scare.
On February 26, 2010, an 8.8 magnitude earthquake hit Chile's southern coast, triggering a large tsunami that potentially could have been disastrous for the Hawaiian Islands the following day. Fortunately, scientists overstated the tsunami threat and surges of small waves were the only indicators of a tsunami.
The NOAA Pacific Tsunami Warning Center in Ewa Beach quickly advised the state to prepare for a tsunami, sounding tsunami sirens and advising people to move inland and stay away from beaches and off the roads. With the help of news broadcasts and social media tools, such as Facebook and Twitter, tsunami experts and government officials encouraged people to prepare for the worst. People flooded grocery stores stocking up on water, food and other emergency kit necessities.
"Although Hawaii wasn't hit by a tsunami, it was evident that the State was sufficiently prepared for a possible disaster," said Representative Blake Oshiro. "However, we need to keep our residents informed and help them be prepared for another type of disaster alert."
Another issue affecting the community is the H1N1 flu. The potentially fatal virus is known to spread from person-to-person through close contact. According to an MSNBC report on February 12, 2010, "57 million U.S. illnesses, 257,000 hospitalizations and 11,690 deaths, including 1,180 children were recorded." Since May 3, 2009, Hawaii reportedly has around 2,220 cases and approximately 13 deaths. Because preventive measures are so crucial to stopping the spread of the virus, holding town meetings for residents to stay informed and ask questions are part of the State's awareness plan.
Sponsoring legislators include Senator David Ige, Senator Donna Mercado Kim, Senator Norman Sakamoto, Representative Blake Oshiro, Representative Roy Takumi, and Representative Mark Takai.