HONOLULU (KITV4) -- Hawaii's first FEMA-operated emergency broadcast studio opened it's doors in Honolulu on Wednesday.
The new studio will greatly increase local capacity to keep residents informed during times of emergency, officials said. It comes as the fierce winds and devastating storm surge of Typhoon Mawar continues to tear through the island of Guam. And warming Pacific waters threaten an active hurricane season here in Hawaii.
"When you are in the dark, when you've just gone through a major emergency... you need information," explained Manny Centeno, program manager of the National Public Warning System. "You need to know where you can find food, water, shelter."
Designed to withstand the most catastrophic of disasters, the standalone studio is safeguarded against 15 FEMA-identified hazards, including nuclear exposure, hurricane damage, and tsunami activity.
"There are a number of different things that we look at and we add protection," Centeno added. "So we can keep that broadcast on."
Intended to serve as Oahu's last direct line of communication, if internet, phone lines, and cable, go down, the initiative utilizes widespread accessibility to am radio to fulfill its commitment.
Radio is everywhere. And as you mentioned, battery-operated radios, crank radios are very important in your community," Centeno said.
The bunker studio is no larger than a college dorm room. However, stocked food supply can accommodate two broadcasters for up to 60 days A bed and self-contained toilet is also included in the studio.
Currently, 77 similar standalone FEMA broadcast studios span the nation, with the capability of reaching 90% of the US population. The agency hopes in expanding access to Oahu they are soon able to reach the outer islands in the coming years.