Tavares requested $1 million toward land acquisition for the project in her 2008-09 budget proposal. She said the current Civil Defense headquarters is too small and doesn’t provide adequate protection for computer systems in a blackout.
“It’s just a mess,” she said.
The proposed emergency management center would involve a complex of self-sufficient “pods,” with space for a backup computer system, disaster management center and police dispatch center. The facility would have its own water, sewer, power and communication systems, and would include a media room and shelter space for the families of emergency workers.
She said it would provide the space and technology needed to communicate with the public and manage county functions during an emergency.
“To me, that’s critical,” Tavares said.
The county is discussing a possible deal with a landowner in Waikapu, she added.
The inadequacy of the current emergency management center, located in the Civil Defense office in the basement of the Kalana O Maui Building, became obvious during December’s devastating Kona storm, Tavares said.
Although the emergency center had a backup power supply, its computers were hooked into the central county system, so when the Kalana O Maui Building lost power, the computers went down too.
“You have no idea how much you depend on these systems until they’re not there,” she said.
Another flaw with the current facility is that the white boards where emergency workers write updates on road conditions and other critical information are not visible from the call center where staffers respond to public phone calls.
“The whole idea is to make it easier to communicate information that the public needs to know,” Tavares said.
She called her $1 million request a “placeholder” for the project, which has an estimated cost of $18.7 million.
The Maui County Council is reviewing Tavares’ budget requests.
• Ilima Loomis can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org'>email@example.com.
MAYOR CHARMAINE TAVARES