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Key Messages: Hawai‘i Wildfires Response

USACE Media Line: 808-835-4062
HawaiiFiresMedia@usace.army.mil

USACE Debris Call Center: 877-214-9117

(DATED April 14, 2024)

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COMMAND MESSAGES

COMMAND MESSAGES

  • The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers brings many unique capabilities to the Hawai‘i wildfires response, but we are just one piece of the much larger federal family that is actively supporting the recovery efforts.
  • Public safety is one of our highest priorities, and we are dedicated to minimizing risks to the public while respecting the people, culture and environment of Hawai‘i.
  • USACE is working with Lahaina-based community leaders, cultural leaders, kupuna (elders) and other statewide Native Hawaiian Organizations to ensure we understand and respect the rich culture of the community. 

GENERAL MISSION TALKING POINTS

  • The Hawai‘i wildfire cleanup requires a coordinated fire debris removal effort that includes FEMA, Hawaii Emergency Management Agency, Maui County, EPA and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.
  • To date, we have had nearly 1,000 USACE employees volunteer from across the nation to support the people of Maui in their recovery efforts. We currently have around 100 people in Maui actively support the recovery with more than 40 across the nation supporting in a remote capacity.
  • The safety of the public, the USACE workforce, and our contractors is our top priority.

Commander’s Priorities

  • Be safe
  • Be accountable
  • Be an ambassador to USACE
  • Do everything with a respect toward cultural sensitivities

MISSION TALKING POINTS

Temporary Housing

  • USACE received a FEMA mission assignment Oct. 28, 2023, to provide conceptual design, site preparation, and construction for temporary housing. FEMA is responsible for the procurement and installation of the actual temporary housing units.

  • USACE developed a site plan for 169 temporary homes in Lahaina, and we issued a contract to DAWSON, LLC, April 11, to begin installing the infrastructure necessary to place homes and welcome survivors.


Debris Removal

Call Center

  • Property owners with questions about eligibility, operations or other concerns can contact the USACE Debris Call Center at 877-214-9117.
  • The call center is staffed Monday – Friday 6 a.m. – 6:30 p.m., Saturday 6 a.m. – 4:30 p.m., and Sunday 6 a.m. – 2:30 p.m.

Debris Ash Concerns and Air Monitoring

  • USACE is dedicated to minimizing the dust produced from debris removal operations. Our contractor is using a water-spraying method to eliminate the material from becoming airborne.
  • The USACE prime contractor, Environmental Chemical Corporation, completed an air monitoring and surveillance plan that was accepted by Hawai‘i Department of Health.
  • USACE Contractors have real-time perimeter air monitors adjacent to work locations. If there are exceedances of action levels, the contractor will stop work, assess, and remediate the situation as necessary, before restarting work.
  • The air monitoring program is being overseen by an ECC certified industrial hygienist. Calibrated air sampling pumps are used to collect personal exposure samples for asbestos, metals, and respirable dust/crystalline silica. We will use the results of these tests throughout the debris removal process to assess the appropriate personal protective equipment, or PPE, that needs to be used by site workers.
  • Contractors entering the “hot zone,” or ash footprint, are required to be in Tyvek suits and half-face respirators since they are working directly in the debris zone and moving about in the ash.
  • Workers immediately outside the hot zone as delineated by the contractors with red marking tape, are not moving about in the ash, and therefore, not required to be in Tyvek suits.
  • All workers at minimum are required to be in hard hat, safety shoes, safety glasses, and reflective vest.
  • USACE contractors are using dust reduction methods that have been derived from lessons-learned from multiple successfully executed debris removal events from the past few years.
  • Residents concerned about the long-term health risks due to the fires are encouraged to contact the Hawai‘i State Department of Health.

Insurance and Paying for Non-eligible Debris

  • Neither USACE nor our contractors collect money or insurance proceeds from property owners for debris removal.
  • Property owners should contact the county of Maui and their insurance company directly for specific details regarding insurance settlements.

Deferred Properties

  • If a property is marked “Deferred” or “Partially Deferred,” it means there is a safety hazard on the site, such as a standing wall or fire-damaged tree, that could collapse or fall. USACE will not allow our workers to enter that site until the safety hazard is mitigated.
  • Once the site is made safe, we will proceed with Phase I assessment, removing hazardous materials, hazardous household waste (HHM), bulk asbestos materials (BAM), etc. When we have cleared the environmental or hazardous issue(s), we will remove any deferred signs and property owner will be allowed re-entry to their property prior to Phase 2 debris removal.

Trees

  • Our goal, along with our federal, state and local partners, regarding trees within Lahaina is to minimize the removal of the remaining trees in the impacted areas. USACE contracted with registered foresters and arborists to complete Hazardous Tree Assessments in the impacted areas.
  • Trees that pose an imminent threat of falling into the public right-of-way, or that present a hazard to workers or the work zone, have been marked for removal – unmarked trees will not be removed.
  • Property owners are encouraged to document on their right-of-entry (ROE) form, any trees on their property that they want to keep. Maui County arborists will review these requests with their federal, state and local partners and provide a determination.

Lahaina

  • We have cleared more than 600 residential properties of debris and six commercial properties.
  • We have completed around 225 properties and returned them to the county.
  • We have removed nearly 1,900 damaged vehicles.
  • Native Hawaiian, Maui-based cultural advisors are leading cultural observation efforts throughout the active debris removal process to protect Maui’s cultural heritage.
  • USACE and our partners began Phase 2 debris removal in Lahaina Jan. 16.

​Kula

  • USACE and our partners began the Phase 2 debris removal in Kula Nov. 7, 2023, and successfully completed that effort Jan. 19. We cleared ash and debris from 25 Kula properties.
  • All wildfire debris removed from Kula was delivered to the Central Maui Landfill.
  • We are working through our issue resolution process to address concerns related to damaged associated to the debris cleanup.

King Kamehameha III Elementary School

KEY MESSAGE:

  • We will continue to prioritize the health and well-being of the children and the community as we move forward in the recovery process.

Talking Points:

  • We worked with the Hawai‘i Department of Education to build the temporary King Kamehameha III Elementary School. The school reopened to approximately 350 students April 1.
  • We received a FEMA mission assignment Sept. 13, 2023, to support the State of Hawai‘i and the Hawai‘i Department of Education to design and oversee installation of a temporary elementary school campus for the Lahaina community. Installation of the temporary school in West Maui began Nov. 20, 2023.
  • USACE and our partners installed the temporary King Kamehameha III Elementary School in 95 days.
  • USACE placed all 336 modular units that make up 38 buildings, to include 30 air-conditioned classrooms. The additional  buildings include, restrooms, a dining room, community space, administrative space, a learning resources space and more.
  • The temporary school is designed to welcome approximately 600 elementary school students.
  • We continue to work with the U.S. EPA to develop solutions to water quality concerns raised by the faculty.
  • The water quality concern is stagnant water that was not cycling through the system. The water has been tested and meets all Hawai‘i water quality standards

HELPFUL MEDIA SPEAKING TIPS

  • You are always on the record, and it is quite possible you will be recorded.
     
  • Do not share classified or sensitive information.
    • Response = command message + talking point ​NOTE: Command messages assert the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers position, talking points provide facts.
       
  • Stay in your lane: Speak only about the things you have the authority and knowledge to address; provide PAO contact information if outside your lane.
     
  • Do not say “no comment.”
     
  • Avoid jargon: Speak plainly and avoid acronyms.
     
  • Stick to the facts and, if possible, correct factual errors.
     
  • It’s okay to ask to “start over.”
     
  • It’s okay to say, “I don’t know.”
    • Wrong info is worse - don’t speculate. Offer to connect them with PAO, so they can get back to the reporter with the information they are seeking.

Contact Information

If you have questions regarding the Regulatory program or need assistance in submitting a permit, please contact us at (808) 835-4303, or send an email to CEPOH-RO@usace.army.mil.

Contact Information

Regulatory Office
Building 252
Fort Shafter, HI  96858-5440
(808) 835-4303
CEPOH-RO@usace.army.mil 

 

Contact Information

If you have questions regarding the Regulatory program or need assistance in submitting a permit, please contact us at (808) 835-4303, or send an email to CEPOH-RO@usace.army.mil.

Contact Information

Regulatory Office
Building 230
Fort Shafter, HI  96858-5440
(808) 835-4303
CEPOH-RO@usace.army.mil 

Guam Field Office
Apra Harbor Naval Complex
PSC 455 Box 188
FPO, AP 96540-1088  Guam
(671) 339-2108 
CEPOH-RO@usace.army.mil