Sunday, October 15, 2006

Never A Disaster That Our Leaders Can’t Make Worse

I’m sure you already know about the big earthquake that shook Hawaii this morning. No fatalities (lucky that) but the state’s in miserable condition, with widespread power outages and major roads destroyed, or blocked by landslides.

Quite the popular tourist spot, Hawaii. There must be thousands of visitors there this second who’d love nothing more than to cut their vacations short and go home right now. The tourists have it especially rough because they are, of course, far less likely than locals to have any sort of emergency supplies on hand:
In Waikiki, one of the state's primary tourism areas, worried visitors began lining up outside convenience stores to purchase food, water and other supplies. Managers were letting tourists into the darkened stores one at a time.

Karie and Bryan Croes waited an hour to buy bottles of water, chips and bread. "It's quite a honeymoon story," said Karie as she and her husband sat in lounge chairs surrounded by their grocery bags beside a pool at ResortQuest Waikiki Beach Hotel.

Yes, tourists and Hawaiians both would all be better off if the visitors could get out of there until the emergency’s over. But the tourists aren’t allowed to leave just yet:

Airports were functioning despite the power outages, though travel was difficult and some flights were being canceled, officials said. Rod Haraga, director of the state Transportation Department, told KSSK said that inbound flights were being allowed to land, but outgoing flights were not taking off because the TSA doesn't have enough power to screen passengers.

Got that? The runways and planes are all just fine but people are stuck on an island thousands of miles away from the nearest major landmass because TSA doesn’t have enough electricity to determine whether or not the bottle of shampoo in a passenger’s carry-on bag is big enough to exceed the anti-terrorist safety size limit.

Or perhaps I should rephrase that: though TSA knows it simply must have electricity to play its extremely vital role in keeping America safe, none of the organization’s wise and brilliant leaders, like Kip Hawley, ever once thought “since terrorist attacks and natural disasters are both wont to cause power failures maybe we should have a few goddamned generators lying around in case there’s an emergency.”


Anonymous Alex said...

Idiocy. Sheer idiocy.

"Nobody gets to leave until we violate your right to privacy!"

5:30 AM  
Blogger Windypundit said...

Hey Jennifer, give them a break. You can't plan for everything.

I mean, how could anybody at the Transportation Security Agency, part of the Department of Homeland Security—which also runs the Federal Emergency Management Agency—have anticipated that some sort of crazy emergency would make make the power go out?

7:05 AM  
Anonymous Anne O'Neimaus said...

Clearly, TSA's fundamental mission, preventing a serious emergency, doesn't include preventing a serious emergency outside the airport/airplane.

As Bruce Schnier says, its all "security theator": a show put on by the powers that be to make us think they are doing something, while they blithely ignore the real issues.

7:33 AM  
Blogger Timothy said...

When you can fly during a power outage, the terrorists win.

8:46 AM  
Blogger rhhardin said...

Read John Gall _Systemantics_ for why things aren't working very well. The original version (ca 1975) was privately published and a gem. It's grown through several editions, but the core is still there, and still a gem.

The rule here is ``Intra-system goals come first.''

12:01 PM  
Anonymous Stevo Darkly said...

Sometimes it feels like the motor of the world has stopped.

Who is John Gall?

11:57 AM  
Anonymous TC said...

And Ray STILL did not evacuate NO!

11:05 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

The State of Hawaii is responsible for providing power at airports for all stakeholders. The terminals at Honolulu airport have been expanded but no emergency power was ever connected to the newest buildings by the State. The airport only has a single generator to provide power to one building.

You don't mention that there was no power to operate the "jetways", which are used to load the planes, nor lack of power for the airlines to issue tickets. There was also no power to pump water throughout the buildings enabling the toilets to operate. It was Superdome all over again for passengers at Honolulu airport all thanks to the planning of Rod Haraga, Director of the State Transportation Department, your source for TSA criticism.

TSA was subject to the same incompetence created by the State Department of Transportation as were the citizens of Honolulu when there was no emergency radio provided to give information. The head of Civil Defense in Honolulu stated his agency didn't need to get on the radio as the event had already happened and his agency's only responsibility is to "warn" people of a potential problem!

Kona International Airport and TSA screeners at that airport were processing passengers at 8am, only 48 minutes after the first shock. Kona airport is located only 10 miles from the epicenter. If Kona could get it going why couldn't Honolulu? Ask Mr Haraga.

11:05 PM  

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