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Monday 08 July, 2024
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Who is Herman Andaya? Maui emergency chief resigns following criticism of wildfire response

BY Shahzad Saeed Aug 18, 2023. 08:06 pm UPDATED: Aug 18, 2023. 08:06 pm

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On Thursday, Herman Andaya, the director of the Maui Emergency Management Agency, submitted his letter of resignation. The departure occurs in the midst of harsh criticism of his group’s response to the tragic Lahaina fire, which has tragically claimed at least 111 lives.

Maui County officials revealed in a press release that Herman Andaya, the MEMA administrator, had resigned “effective immediately” for “health reasons.”

Herman Andaya, who is he?

The head of the Maui Emergency Management Agency was Herman Andaya. For the way Maui County responded to the wildfires, he received harsh criticism.

Andaya lacked experience in handling emergency situations. According to Maui Now, a local news website, he was chosen for the position over 40 other highly qualified candidates in 2017.

Andaya asserted that prior to becoming the director of the emergency organization, he served as the deputy director of the state’s Department of Housing and Human Concerns. Additionally, he spent 11 years as the chief of staff for the mayor of Maui County.

Andaya claimed that throughout this time, he maintained constant contact with representatives of “emergency operations” and underwent a variety of training sessions that helped him gain knowledge of the region.

Locals claim that when the Maui wildfires broke out on August 8 there were no evacuation orders issued and that the island’s warning sirens were silent. Andaya responded, “I do not,” when asked by reporters on Wednesday why he chose not to activate the sirens.

Andaya continued, “The people are used to running for higher ground when the sirens go off, which are typically used to warn of tsunamis or approaching storms.”

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Additionally, he said, “We were afraid that if we had sounded the sirens that night, people would have gone mauka (mountainside), and if they had done so, they would have fallen into the fire. Therefore, using WEA [Wireless Emergency Alerts] and EAS [Emergency Alert System] is our protocol,” according to the report.

Read more: Rick Jeanneret Dead at 81, Cause of Death

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