In an era when many take the notion of self-reliance seriously, sustainability and its various components are being talked about, studied and practiced by a growing number of residents of this island state situated smack-dab in the middle of the vast Pacific Ocean.
If you are at all interested in this multifaceted subject, plan on heading for Keaau High School on Saturday for the 50th state’s first-ever giant preparedness fair. It’s free, with activities for all ages.
The Puna Regional Emergency Preparedness (PREP) Fair — from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. at the KHS campus — promises to engage participants in, and prepare them for, the many challenges of emergency situations in Hawaii, the world’s most-isolated populous place.
A detailed schedule and map of campus presentation locations will be handed out to each attendee.
Festivities will begin with a welcome, followed by a rousing performance by the Puna Hongwanji Taiko Drummers and the Keaau High School Band. Lucky-number drawings will be held every half hour between 10 a.m. and 2:30 p.m. for 250 emergency preparedness bags filled with goodies donated by local businesses. These bags, plus 2,000 recyclable bags which will be given to all fair-goers upon entrance to the fair, were donated by KTA Super Stores. Other prizes and awards will be given to children and teens.
Keaau High School was selected as the fair site, because it is in an area central to upper and lower Puna, as well as isle residents in Hilo and farther north.
“Puna’s population has grown so quickly, and we are all aware of the challenges of its limited infrastructure,” said event co-Chair Marlene Hapai. “This fair will give the people of Puna not only the opportunity to get better prepared when emergencies strike, but will also use mapping and surveys to collect community input to give to our elected officials and those in charge of valuable resources data to enact needed change.
“The emergency evacuation mapping, a major focus of the fair, will help residents map their way out of their areas using large maps, send them home with an 8½-by-11-inch map to post on their refrigerator for home evacuation use, and also help locate alternative exits that may have been closed in the past or that have potential for emergency use and other uses identified in the Puna Community Development Plan,” she explained.
In addition to mapping, nearly 50 government and private presenters and exhibitors will be providing information for all, including the general public, seniors, special-needs individuals and keiki. Volunteers are scheduled to engage participants in emergency preparedness activities. KWXX will be onsite, broadcasting from the PREP Fair throughout the day, said Hapai.
The fair is an event partnering the Puna Community Development Plan Subcommittee on Connectivity and Emergency Response with the Hawaii County Civil Defense Agency. Bill Hanson of Civil Defense is Hapai’s co-chair, and Councilman Gregor Ilagan also is helping to sponsor the public educational outreach activity.
Ask the Hawaii Island Humane Society or the state veterinarian what to do with your pets and livestock should an emergency occur. Listen to a talk on “Medication Emergency Preparedness” or presentations on “Permaculture and Edible Landscaping,” “Preparing Documents for a Disaster” or the “Digital Age of Amateur Radio,” to name just a few.
Challenge a friend to see who can put out a fire faster. Watch the National Weather Service launch a weather balloon. Learn how to filter stagnant water, preserve and store foods, propagate plants, compost, mill corn, plus much, much more to prepare you for emergencies.
With some 50 presentations, exhibits and contests, there will be enough to keep folks of all ages busy all day. Learn about emergency routes, centers and shelters, planning, training, communications, security and sustainability. There will be a special Children’s Activity Section, including Keiki ID and a Career Explorations activity for teens in grades 9-12, with the first 100 finishing the activity getting a prize.
“A major focus of the fair will be the ‘Emergency Evacuation Mapping Make and Take.’ This activity, developed specifically for Puna subdivisions and areas, will take participants from large maps of the Puna district to small ones that they can take with them and put on their refrigerators so they know how to get out, depending on what direction hazards are coming from, and can make recommendations on other potential routes that may be used.,” explained Hapai.
Surveys will also be conducted to determine emergency preparedness of families, communities and businesses. The PCDP’s Subcommittee on Connectivity and Emergency Preparedness, together with its partner, Hawaii County Civil Defense, plans to share this information with those interested in, and able to improve, health and safety within the Puna district.
The fair is free and open to all. Only the mapping activities will focus specifically on the Puna District. All other information and activities will be useful and open to anyone from anywhere.
“Mahalo to our presenters, exhibitors and volunteers,” said Hapai.
In addition to the aforementioned, participants will include the following: Community Emergency Response Teams, police and fire departments; Neighborhood Watch, departments of water supply and environmental management; Prosecutor’s Office, Office of Aging and Disability, state Department of Defense, Air Guard and National Guard; state departments of agriculture and health, Hawaii Community College School of Nursing; University of Hawaii at Hilo Daniel K. Inouye College of Pharmacy and Computer Science Department; UH-Manoa College of Tropical Agriculture & Human Resources and Center for the Study of Active Volcanoes; Pahoa High & Intermediate School, Keaau Elementary School, Saint Joseph School; National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, National Weather Service, Federal Emergency Management Agency, V.O.A.D., USGS Hawaiian Volcano Observatory, American Red Cross, Big Island Amateur Radio Club, Puna Emergency Radio Club, Boy Scouts of America, Youth Challenge, Civil Air Patrol, Church of the Latter-day Saints, Kalani Honua and Hawaii Survival Mom.
“We all say a big mahalo to Principal Dean Cevallos, the faculty, staff and students of Keaau High School,” said Hapai.
Presentations will include the following topics: “Digital Age of Amateur Radio,” “Permaculture,” “Global Perspectives for Edible Landscaping,” “Local Emergency Preparations,” “Firewise,” “Documents,” “Earthquakes in Hawaii,” “Saving the Whole Family,” “Hurricane Preparedness,” “Your Hawaii County Civil Defense,” “A Veterinarian’s Perspective,” “Pets and Disasters,” “Help Me Help,” “CERT Operations” and “Medication — Emergency Preparedness.” Learn about food prep, water storage, solar and other alternate sources of power, composting and how to shelter in place.
A mock shelter will be set up and manned on the cafetorium stage. There will be communications stations, fire suppression and stretcher carry contests and other displays inside and outside the school buildings.