Hurricane Iselle, a Category One storm, is heading for Hawaii, and emergency agencies are alerting residents. It’s a chance to examine the warnings in the framework I set down in a previous article on effective warnings.

On August 7, 2014, Mayor Alan Arakawa held a press conference on the status of Hurricane Iselle today in the Mayor’s Conference Room at the Kalana O Maui County Building. Also present to give remarks was Lieutenant Governor Shan Tsutsui. See Below.

It is a useful exercise to evaluate the warnings the local government authority is putting in place.  I cant advise what the weather cnetre is doing with it’s warnings, and taken together with other information unavailable to m, the community might be comprehensively warned. But a quick examination of the event suggests the Country is missing an opportunity to provide effective warnings.

The event

  • What’s happening? Mayor Arakawa told us that a hurricane with 60mph winds is coming. He did not describe the likely impact of winds of this strength; or the amount of rain expected; or the type of damage likely. In other words he described the “threat” but not the “risk.”
  • What’s going to happen? Flooding, landslides, electricity loss, but no context, or scale.
  • How serious is this? Not discussed. 
  • What’s it mean for me? Not discussed
  • When is it happening? Not discussed in sufficient detail, although there might be other warnings, possibly from NOAA and the Pacific Tropical Hurricane Centre, but this was a lost opportunity if he was seekinhg to become the strong trusted local voice.
  • What should I do? “Stay at home to survive” was the key message, however at one stage he confusingly encouraged some people to evacuate.
  • Where can I get more information? Some encouragement to listen to the radio stations and TV, and an emergency phone number, plus a county phone number. No web sites; non social media; no suggestion asking family and friends and experienced community leaders.
  • How can I help my community? Encouraged to look after elderly people.

The delivery (This was a news conference, only useful for generating broad understanding of what was going on.)

  • Immediately
  • Repeatedly
  • Updated
  • By a strong trusted local voice
  • With verification
  • Simultaneously on a variety of platforms several of which should be available to the recipient

The basis

  •  Be based on research No attempt made to provide this context to the audience at the news conference, which was likely to be re-broadcast (and in fact WAS loaded to You tube).
  • The community must know what to do when it hears a warning No information given at this event, although the weather service might be doing that.
  • Be part of our community culture Not attempted
  • Be comprehensive Not indicated.
  • Be reliable Assume yes. No graphics, no suggestion of when the next media event would be.
  • Be consistent I cant comment
  • Be integrated with all warning platforms and options. Doesnt appear so. No “deaf signers” and little for hard of hearing. No connection to social media.
  • Be reviewed, assessed and constantly improved. (Hopefully).