Herman Andaya, the administrator of Maui’s Emergency Management Agency (EMA), resigned Thursday after drawing immense criticism for his agency’s response to the tragic fires that killed more than 110 people in Maui, The Associated Press reported.
Andaya’s agency opted against sounding the emergency siren system as fires began to engulf swaths of the island’s populated areas last week, a decision which appears to have led to his resignation, which is effective immediately, according to the AP.
He strongly defended his agency’s decision during a Wednesday press conference, stating that using the sirens may not have helped citizens in a testy exchange with reporters.
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Andaya had zero prior career experience in emergency management before earning the job with the Maui EMA.
“The public is trained to seek higher ground in the event that the siren is sounded,” Andaya said of his agency’s decision during the press conference. “In fact, on the website of the Hawaiian Emergency Management Agency, the following guideline is provided: ‘If you are in a low-lying area near the coastline, evacuate to high grounds.”
Reports suggest that human error and government mismanagement helped turn the fires from a dangerous situation into a tragedy.
According to the AP, the fires claimed the lives of 110 people, which may rise as more bodies are found in the wreckage.
The Maui EMA did not respond immediately to a request for comment.
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