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Hawai‘i Delegation Briefed by Federal, State Agencies on False Alert

January 18, 2018, 8:10 AM HST (Updated January 17, 2018, 9:20 PM)
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US Senators Brian Schatz (D-Hawai‘i) and Mazie K. Hirono (D-Hawai‘i), were able to ask federal and state authorities about the incident and discuss how to prevent another false alarm from happening again. Photo Courtesy Sen. Schatz office.

Hawaiʻi’s congressional delegation was briefed by federal and state agencies on the false emergency alert that went out across the state on Saturday, Jan. 13, 2018.

US Senators Brian Schatz (D-Hawai‘i) and Mazie K. Hirono (D-Hawai‘i), and senior staff members for US Representatives Tulsi Gabbard (D-Hawai‘i) and Colleen Hanabusa (D-Hawai‘i) were able to ask federal and state authorities about the incident and discuss how to prevent another false alarm from happening again.

The briefing, organized by Sen. Schatz, included officials from the Department of Defense, the Federal Emergency Management Agency, the Federal Communications Commission, the Hawai‘i Emergency Management Agency and the Hawai‘i Department of Defense.

“This is a state responsibility but we need federal support – federal oversight and expertise,” said Sen. Schatz. “Today, the FCC, FEMA, and DoD committed to providing that support and helping our state figure out what went wrong and how we can fix it. That is the first step on the road to regaining the public’s trust.”

“Our delegation wants to get to the bottom of what occurred to make sure this mistake never happens again. I will continue to work with my colleagues, along with federal, state, and county leaders, to achieve this goal,” Sen. Mazie K. Hirono said.

“The terror and unprecedented crisis faced by the people of Hawaiʻi on Saturday demands urgent state and federal investigation to determine what happened and how we can make sure it never happens again. We heard today that in addition to investigations by the state and the FCC, FEMA will also be conducting its own investigations into the colossal chain of failures that took place. The people of Hawaiʻi deserve timely answers and corrective action from our government and all those involved to regain the confidence and trust of the people of Hawaiʻi,” said Rep. Tulsi Gabbard.

“Today’s informational briefing for the Congressional delegation was an important starting point for the work we must do to establish an effective and reliable ballistic missile alert system in Hawai‘i and around the country,” said Rep. Colleen Hanabusa. “Mahalo to Senator Schatz for the opportunity to get together with the various stakeholders and learn about their roles in the upcoming investigation. We look forward to working with our federal, state, and local partners to find common sense solutions that will help re-establish the public’s trust in Hawai‘i’s emergency broadcast system.”

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Principal briefers participating in today’s meeting included:

• Robert G. Salesses, Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for Homeland Defense Integration and Defense Support of Civil Authorities
• John Veatch, Assistant Administrator, National Continuity Programs Directorate, FEMA
• Antwane Johnson, Director, IPAWs Division, National Continuity Programs Directorate, FEMA
• Wade Witmer, Deputy Director, IPAWs Division, National Continuity Programs Directorate, FEMA
• Lisa Fowlkes, Chief of the Public Safety & Homeland Security Bureau, FCC
• Nikki McGinnis, Deputy Chief of the Public Safety & Homeland Security Bureau, FCC
• Vern Miyagi, Administrator, Hawai‘i Emergency Management Agency
• Ryan Hirae, Deputy Chief, Telecommunications Branch, Hawaii Emergency Management Agency
• MG Joe Logan, Adjutant General, Hawai‘i Department of Defense
• BG Ken Hara, Deputy Adjutant General, Hawai‘i Department of Defense

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