Maui Emergency Management Head Resigns After Questions of Not Sounding Alarm During Wildfires

In this image taken from video, Maui Emergency Management Agency Administrator Herman Andaya speaks during a news conference in Wailuku, Hawaii, Wednesday, Aug. 16, 2023. (AP Photo/Mike Householder)
AP Photo/Mike Householder

Herman Andaya, the head administrator for the Maui Emergency Management Agency, has resigned from his position just shortly after questions erupted about his handling of the wildfire disaster.

Hawaii News Now reported Andaya’s departure Thursday when Maui County Mayor Richard Bissen announced that Andaya resigned for “health reasons.”

“Given the gravity of the crisis we are facing, my team and I will be placing someone in this key position as quickly as possible and I look forward to making that announcement soon,” Bissen said.

An aerial image taken on August 10, 2023, shows destroyed homes and buildings on the waterfront burned to the ground in Lahaina in the aftermath of wildfires in western Maui, Hawaii. (Photo by PATRICK T. FALLON/AFP via Getty Images)

The resignation came after a disastrous news conference on Wednesday wherein Andaya defended his decision to not activate sirens in Lahaina, arguing that it would have sent people fleeing into the fires.

“The public is trained to seek higher ground in the event that the sirens are sounded,” he said. “Had we sounded the sirens that night, we were afraid that people would have gone [mountainside], and if that was the case, they would have gone into the fire.”

County of Maui / Facebook

“So that is the reason why; it is our protocol to use WEA [Wireless Emergency Alerts] and EAS [the Emergency Alert System],” he said, referring to text alerts sent to cell phones and alerts sent via television and radio.

However, as Kristina Wong of Breitbart News noted, “due to widespread power and phone service outages, many on the island could not receive those alerts.” Hawaii’s own official government website also says the “all-hazard siren system” can be used for a “variety of both natural and human-caused events,” including “wildfires.”

“He also revealed during the press conference that he was not even on the island on the day the fires began. He was in Oahu, attending a three-day Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) disaster preparedness seminar,” Wong noted.

CBS News also reported that Andaya had no actual background in emergency disaster response.

“CBS News has learned Maui’s emergency operations chief had no background in disaster response. It’s his department that is responsible for setting off warning sirens, which rang silent during the fires,” noted Norah O’Donnell.

Paul Roland Bois joined Breitbart News in 2021. He also directed the award-winning feature film, EXEMPLUM, which can be viewed for FREE on YouTube or Tubi. A high-quality, ad-free stream can also be purchased on Google Play or Vimeo on Demand. Follow him on Twitter @prolandfilms or Instagram @prolandfilms.


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