By Stephanie Rush, U.S. Army Garrison-Hawaii Public AffairsJune 12, 2009
WHEELER ARMY AIRFIELD, Hawaii - Validating emergency operating plans and training officials to better protect the community, its members and installation assets, U.S. Army Garrison-Hawaii (USAG-HI) held its annual hurricane exercise, Makana Pahili, May 28-June 5.
With its Hawaiian meaning, "strong wind," the exercise lived up to its name, simulating a Category 4 hurricane with winds up to 155 miles per hour battering the Hawaiian islands, killing more than 1,700 people and causing $160 million in damages within USAG-HI.
Held statewide, the interagency exercise tested disaster plans, communication systems, shelters and response and recovery operations to include Defense Support to Civil Authorities (DSCA) for both government and private organizations.
"This was the state's test," said Joe Barker, emergency plans officer, Directorate of Emergency Services (DES). "This was the first year that the entire island was involved in the hurricane exercise, including each of the armed services."
At the garrison level, preparation for the mock storm began days before inclement weather hit the islands. Representatives from every directorate, support staff office, and major tenant units gathered in the Emergency Operations Center (EOC) to begin the process of ensuring the garrison's personnel, buildings and property were in order before, during and after the storm's landfall.
"It's a training exercise, but it's to prepare us for the real thing," said Command Sgt. Major Robert Williamson, USAG-HI. "You never know what's going to happen."
The exercise was fueled by numerous master scenario of events lists (MSELs). Scenarios were created and then participants planned their response from within their capabilities.
"These MSELs were developed to overwhelm you and to test (Joint Task Force-Homeland Defense) and the state," Barker said to staff at their AAR (After Action Report) Briefing. "All of our stuff here, I wanted to deplete you of your capabilities to (figure out alternate ways to) work."
By pooling individual resources and assets, the garrison was able to work with higher headquarters and other state and federal agencies to collectively deal with issues and respond to MSELs.
By practicing and preparing for a variety of events, each participating organization is better prepared in case of a real emergency.
"The point is (that) we are U.S. Army Garrison-Hawaii," said Lt. Col. Jay Hammer, executive officer, USAG-HI. "We're the first responders inside the wire."
Are you prepared for a hurricane'
Hurricane season in Hawaii officially runs from June 1-Nov. 30. Preparing for a disaster is the most important step in keeping you and your family safe.
Aca,!AcKnow what to do in the event of a hurricane and be prepared.
Aca,!AcFor more useful information on hurricane preparedness, a recommended example of an Emergency Readiness Kit, as well as list of on-post shelters, visit www.garrison.hawaii.army.mil, under the "Health & Safety" menu on the left.
Aca,!AcFor a complete listing of local off-post shelters, refer to your local phonebook, visit www.oahucivildefense.com or call the Oahu Civil Defense Agency at 808-523-4122.