Maui, Hawaii -- Mindful of how disasters can devastate communities, the county of Maui will join the nationwide Project Impact prevention program at the invitation of Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) Director James Lee Witt.
FEMA will welcome the County of Maui, Hawaii, as the newest member of the agency's Project Impact initiative - a national effort to change the way America deals with disasters. The program encourages communities to come together, assess their vulnerabilities and implement strategies to prevent or limit damage before disasters occur.
A formal signing ceremony is scheduled for 11 a.m., Monday, May 3, at the Mayor's Lounge, 9th Floor, County of Maui Building, 200 South High Street, Wailuku.
"The motive for Maui is obvious," said James "Kimo" Apana, Mayor of Maui. "This partnership corresponds with the goals of our county, in which public safety is top priority. Disaster-resistant communities are able to withstand disasters with far less loss of life and property."
The County of Maui faces an array of high-risk hazards such as hurricanes, floods, fires, earthquakes, tsunamis, high surf, high winds and droughts. The residents have seen first-hand the economic and emotional price paid following such disasters as Hurricane Iniki in 1992, recent fires in the West Maui mountains, and recent flooding in East Maui.
By participating in Project Impact, the County of Maui will receive technical support from FEMA while creating local partnerships with the business community, grassroots organizations, local government and individual citizens. This local partnership, designed to infuse local responsibility throughout the county, will provide funding, in-kind services and technical support to reduce risks and to build a stronger, safer community.
"We applaud the County of Maui for its commitment to reducing damage risks," said Martha Whetstone, Regional Director of FEMA Region IX in San Francisco. "FEMA invited the County of Maui to participate as a Project Impact community because of the history of damage in their area, the probability that the residents will face disasters in the future, and the county's willingness to participate in the Project Impact prevention programs.
Besides FEMA, Maui's numerous Project Impact partners will include various state departments such as State of Hawaii Civil Defense, the Department of Education (Maui), University of Hawaii-Manoa, various county departments such as the Maui County Fire Department, County of Maui Civil Defense Agency, Maui Community College, the Maui Memorial Medical Center, the Social Research Institute, Central Pacific Bank, the Maui Chapter of the American Institute of Architects, Alexander and Baldwin Properties, Inc, the Pacific Disaster Center, Hale Makua (elder services), the American Red Cross AT & T Wireless Services, and Eagle Hardware and Garden.
Three common-sense principles are the basis of Project Impact: mitigation at the local-community level; participation by the private sector; and long-term preventive measures.
"Project Impact is a great example of a cooperative partnership between the private and public sectors," added Whetstone. "We look forward to working closely with the County of Maui, local community leaders, businesses and residents."
The recommended County of Maui projects include education and outreach, and mitigation plans for West Maui and East Maui/Hana regions.
In addition to the County of Maui, nationwide there are now 118 communities participating in Project Impact, including the County of Hawaii.