More Emergency Sirens Being Added on Big Island

The state is beefing up the system on Hawaii Island from its current 84 locations to 112, Magno told the council. Most sirens are currently near the coast, where hurricanes and tsunamis pose the greatest threat.

Sirens will be installed at East Carvalho Park, Panaewa Park, Ahualani Park, Keokea Park, Kamehameha Park, Kahaluu Beach Park, Palipoko Road, Hookena Beach Park, Whittington Beach Park, Hawaiian Ocean View, Waiohinu, Hawaiian Ocean View Estates, Mountain View, Keaau Shipman Park, Ainaloa and Captain Cook, according to a memorandum of agreement between the county and the state.

Each siren is expected to cost the state about $100,000.

Rapoza said the modernization project includes repairing malfunctioning sirens, upgrading older ones to digital systems and adding new ones.

When done, the 384 sirens statewide will increase to 495, said Vern Miyagi, Emergency Management Agency administrator.

The wailing siren, which Hawaii hadn’t heard since the end of the Cold War, sounded for about a minute last week, following a routine test of a siren used to alert people about natural disasters such as a tsunami.

 This month’s test generated more complaints than the usual test of the natural disaster siren, partly because of all the media attention leading up it.

“Everybody was listening for it this time,” Miyagi said. “Prior to this I would be lying to you if I said everybody stood at their homes … and listened acutely for the monthly tones.”

The agency is gathering reports from Hawaii’s counties, along with information from volunteers who listened, Miyagi said.