Home The Wire Maui Official Resigns

Maui Official Resigns


For many, the images of the raging inferno that was the Lahaina Wildfires are still fresh in their minds. The devastating blaze, which took 111 lives, now faces yet another controversy as reports surface questioning why the warning sirens did not sound during the blaze.

In the aftermath of the Maui blaze, residents were upset and wondered why the emergency sirens were not used.

“They didn’t give us no warning. No nothing,” Lisa Panis, a resident of Lahaina, said in an interview. “No siren, no alarms, no nothing.”

Hawaiian Governor Josh Green asked them to remain patient until they get an answer.

“Of course people will ask that question. We will always try to protect people more. Eventually those questions will be answered by the emergency management folks, I’m sure,” he said.

A recent survey conducted by Hawaii News Now concluded that Maui’s Emergency Management Agency (EMA) Administrator and the county’s decision to not sound the sirens during the Lahaina Wildfires could be a possible cause of the fatalities.

On August 17, 2023, a video captured Maui’s Emergency Operations Chief Herman Andaya taking questions from reporters said he did not regret not sounding the sirens.

Andaya stated that the sirens are “used primarily for tsunamis.”

“The public is trained to seek higher ground in the event that the siren is sounded,” Andaya said. “In fact, on the website of the Hawaiian Emergency Management Agency, the following guideline is provided: ‘If you are in a low-lying area near the coastline, evacuate to high grounds.’”

“If that was the case, then they would have gone into the fire,” Andaya said, adding that “there are no sirens mauka, or on the mountainside where the fire was spreading down. So, even if we sounded the sirens, it would not have saved those people on the mountainside, mauka.”

About 24 hours later Herman Andaya announced he would resign from his role as EMA Administrator, and his attorney cited health reasons for his resignation.

This decision not to sound the sirens had many questioning his credentials as EMA Administrator. as recent reports indicate he lacked any experience in emergency management. Andaya had previously served as the Chief of Staff to the former Mayor Alan Arakawa, however, his educational background was in political science and law rather than in disaster response and preparation.

In other words, Andaya was a bureaucrat, not an expert.

Arakawa’s backers insist that he was qualified because he had previously assisted in emergencies while working for the Mayor and “participated in online FEMA trainings and workshops throughout the years.”

This sounds like what happens when you put a small-time mayor in charge of the supply chain.