The man in charge of Maui’s Emergency Management Agency said Wednesday he has no regrets about not activating warning sirens as the deadly wildfire swept through the island.
Chief Herman Andaya said he opted to send alerts via mobile devices, radio waves, television and the county’s opt-in resident alert system – but not via a siren.
Despite claims that warning sirens could have saved hundreds of people who instead burned in the deadly blaze, Andaya maintained that sirens are typically used for tsunami warnings and that Hawaiians are trained to look for higher ground when they fire, which in this case would have led to Burning Hell.
There are growing fears that many children are among the dead – as they were left home alone when schools delayed opening due to power outages before the storm.
Andaya defended her experience and qualification for the job at a midweek press conference held by Governor Josh Green.
“If we had sounded the siren that night, we fear that people would have had mauka (towards the mountains) and if so, then they would have gone into the fire,” he said. .
Search operations continue in Lahaina as hope fades for survivors – though some 1,300 still missing
‘I should also note that there are no mauka mermaids, nor on the mountainside where the fire was spreading. So even if we had sounded the siren, we would not have saved those people there on the mountainside.
The response came after a reporter said several survivors of the blaze – which claimed the lives of at least 110 people – said their neighbors and loved ones could have been saved if the sirens had gone off earlier. to notice the 1,000 degree flames rolling towards their homes.
The reporter also appeared to question Andaya’s resume and how he had no previous emergency management experience before taking on his current role in 2017. He was chief of staff to a former mayor.
The member of the press then asked if he was considering handing more responsibility to someone else.
Andaya said the claim that he had no experience before taking on his current role is “not true”.
He argued that his work history includes time in the housing department and as a staff member in the mayor’s office, during which time he “reported to emergency operations centers.”
“To say that I am not qualified, I think is incorrect,” he added.
Governor Green and Maui Mayor Richard Bissen both defended Andaya against the journalist’s near-accusations. Green agreed that his reaction to hearing the sirens would be to expect a tsunami.
Green confirmed on Wednesday that the death toll had risen to 110, although search teams had only covered 38% of the affected territory.
Officials including Green have said the death toll will likely continue to rise over the coming weeks.
There are growing concerns that many children, who were at home because schools were closed and parents were at work, are among the dead.
“Our parents work one, two, three jobs just to get by and they can’t afford to take a day off,” said Jessica Sill, a kindergarten teacher at King Kamehameha III Elementary School in Lahaina. the wall street journal. “Without a school, there was nowhere for (the children) to go that day.”
On Wednesday, Herman Andaya defended his decision not to sound emergency warning sirens as the wildfire headed toward Lahaina.
Gov. Josh Green said he expects the official death toll to rise by around 10 people a day over the next week – officials did not say what they believe the figure to be final.
People walk past destroyed by a wildfire in Lahaina – search teams have covered about 38% of the affected area
Maui Mayor Richard Bissen defended Andaya at Wednesday’s press conference alongside Governor Green
Andaya also claimed that even if the sirens had sounded, there would have been significant tracts of land where there are no sirens and therefore people would not have been hypothetically saved by them.
Dog corpses from California and Washington are taking part in the search, and relatives of the 1,300 people still missing have been asked to provide DNA samples.
Authorities have set up a task force to speed up the process of identifying the bodies and notifying families of the deaths of loved ones, as teams continue to search the rubble.
Maui County Police Chief John Pelletier said, “This is unprecedented. No one has ever seen what is alive today. Not this size, not this number, not this volume, and we’re not done.
The cause of the devastating wildfires, the deadliest in modern US history, is still under investigation.
President Joe Biden, who has been spending time at his Delaware beach house, is expected to visit the island on Monday.
Corpse dogs from California and Washington are helping in the search, and relatives of the 1,300 people still missing have been asked to provide DNA samples.
President Joe Biden, who has been spending time at his Delaware beach house, is expected to visit the island on Monday
Heartbreaking images also show how little is left in historic Maui, which until a week ago was home to more than 12,000 people.
Exclusive photos from DailyMail.com show how rescue efforts are still underway even as hopes fade that someone may be found alive in the demolished town of Lahaina.
Footage shows cadaver dogs sniffing out the wreckage of a burnt-out parking lot, search and rescue teams combing through the remains of a demolished warehouse and firefighters sifting through the wreckage of a gas station.
The heartbreaking images also show how little is left in historic Maui, which until a week ago was home to more than 12,000 people.
The Front Street tourist hotspot, which once had charming wooden buildings and an ancient banyan tree, is now littered with burnt-out cars while the city’s main commercial thoroughfare, the Honoapiilani Freeway, is a wasteland of demolished businesses and vehicles accident.