Northwest Arkansas Democrat-Gazette - - NATIONAL - JEN­NIFER SINCO KELLE­HER In­for­ma­tion for this ar­ti­cle was con­trib­uted by Au­drey McAvoy of The As­so­ci­ated Press.

“Hawaii is still safe.” Vern Miyagi, ad­min­is­tra­tor of Hawaii’s Emer­gency Man­age­ment Agency, on planned monthly tests of an at­tack warning sys­tem

HONOLULU — Hawaii is the first state to pre­pare the pub­lic for the pos­si­bil­ity of a bal­lis­tic mis­sile strike from North Korea.

The state’s Emer­gency Man­age­ment Agency on Fri­day an­nounced a pub­lic ed­u­ca­tion cam­paign about what to do. Hawaii law­mak­ers have been urg­ing emer­gency man­age­ment of­fi­cials to up­date Cold War-era plans for cop­ing with a nu­clear at­tack as North Korea de­vel­ops nu­clear weapons and bal­lis­tic mis­siles that can reach the is­lands.

Start­ing in Novem­ber, Hawaii will be­gin monthly tests of an “at­tack-warning” siren the state hasn’t heard since the end of the Cold War in the 1980s. The wail­ing siren will be tested on the first work­ing day of each month, af­ter a test of an “at­ten­tion-alert” steady tone siren with which res­i­dents are al­ready fa­mil­iar.

In­for­ma­tional brochures, along with TV, ra­dio and In­ter­net an­nounce­ments, will help ed­u­cate the pub­lic about the new siren sound and pro­vide pre­pared­ness guid­ance. “If they’re not ed­u­cated, they could ac­tu­ally be fright­ened by it,” agency Ex­ec­u­tive Direc­tor Toby Clair­mont said of need­ing sev­eral months to in­tro­duce the new siren.

Be­cause it would take a mis­sile 15 to 20 min­utes to ar­rive, the in­struc­tions to the pub­lic are sim­ple: “Get in­side, stay in­side and stay tuned,” said Vern Miyagi, agency ad­min­is­tra­tor. “You will not have time to pick up your fam­ily and go to a shel­ter and all that kind of stuff. … It has to be au­to­matic.”

He stressed that his agency is sim­ply try­ing to stay ahead of a “very un­likely” sce­nario, but it’s a pos­si­bil­ity that Hawaii can’t ig­nore.

Hawaii is an im­por­tant strate­gic out­post for the U.S. mil­i­tary. The is­land of Oahu is home to the U.S. Pa­cific Com­mand, the mil­i­tary’s head­quar­ters for the Asia-Pa­cific re­gion. It also hosts dozens of Navy ships at Pearl Har­bor and is a key base for the Air Force, Army and Ma­rine Corps.

The Hawaii Tourism Au­thor­ity sup­ports pre­par­ing for dis­as­ters, but it is con­cerned that mis­in­for­ma­tion about brac­ing for a North Korea at­tack could scare trav­el­ers from vis­it­ing the is­lands, spokesman Char­lene Chan said in a state­ment. “The ef­fect of such a down­turn would ul­ti­mately be felt by res­i­dents who rely on tourism’s suc­cess for their liveli­hood,” she said.

With that in mind, Miyagi re­it­er­ated, “Hawaii is still safe.”

Hawaii res­i­dents, who al­ready face haz­ards in­clud­ing tsunamis and hurricanes, are fa­mil­iar with dis­as­ter pre­pared­ness. Be­cause it’s cur­rently hur­ri­cane sea­son, res­i­dents should al­ready have an emer­gency kit that in­cludes 14 days of food and water.

“It also works for this type of sce­nario,” said Lt. Col. Charles Anthony, spokesman for the Hawaii State De­part­ment of De­fense.

Hawaii of­fi­cials sur­veyed 28 U.S. states and cities about what they’re do­ing for the North Korea threat. “They think it’s too soon,” Clair­mont said.

But coun­ter­parts in Cal­i­for­nia have con­tacted him ask­ing for guid­ance now that they are start­ing to look at a sim­i­lar ef­fort, Clair­mont said.


Toby Clair­mont, ex­ec­u­tive direc­tor of the Hawaii Emer­gency Man­age­ment Agency, shows off new in­for­ma­tional ma­te­ri­als Fri­day in Honolulu. Hawaii an­nounced a pub­lic ed­u­ca­tion cam­paign fo­cused on what to do if North Korea at­tempts a mis­sile strike.

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