Information dissemination about outage gets F-minus

Maui Electric did an incredible job in restoring power to Maui. They have 70,872 customers on three islands. On Maui, 66,500 were without power, the entire island. Restoring power to almost everybody in 12 hours is truly miraculous. Congratulations and most sincere mahalos.

However, there was virtually no information available to the public during the outage. Theoretically, the best source of information in this situation should be the radio. Scanning the radio it is hard to find anything other than reggae, rap and religion, with virtually all just rebroadcast from elsewhere.

If you had a smartphone and internet access, there was no information on The Maui News, MECO or County Emergency Management websites. If you had a smartphone and internet access and a Facebook account, there was some information on the county Facebook page. That was the information needle in the haystack.

There needs to be a much better way to get high-quality emergency information to the public quickly. What areas are affected, when is recovery expected in each area, what areas have already been recovered?

For this incident, public information dissemination gets an F-minus. Now, can the powers that be create a plan for vast improvement for the next emergency? We need at least two Maui radio stations, one AM, one FM, with backup generators to be willing and able to provide updates every 15 minutes. This will require interrupting regularly scheduled broadcasts. And the public needs to know where those stations are on the dial.

Buck Joiner

Kihei

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