The famous Herman Andaya stepped down from his job as the Maui Emergency Management Agency leader because people were upset with how he handled the big fires in Lahaina, Hawaii. How did this come about? Read on.
With the full name Herman Kealoha Andaya Jr., a native of Hawaii, grew up there. He went to the University of Hawaii at Manoa for his education, finished his studies, and got a degree in political science in 1991.
Although he had good eyes for his job, he also had critics who felt something wasn’t working right. Some even wondered if he had enough qualifications and experience for the position. Some were both fans and also quiet until the ugly fire incident happened. This fire was a crisis, and people had concerns about how he handled it.
Herman Andaya did different jobs. He studied law and got a law degree in 1994. Then, in 1995, he passed a test to be a lawyer in Hawaii. He became an official attorney.
He worked in law and politics. Before leading MEMA in 2017, he had other jobs like deputy prosecutor, special assistant, and chief of staff. People praised him for planning emergencies and leading.
He started as a deputy prosecutor from 1995 to 2000. Then, from 2000 to 2011, he was a special assistant at a college. In 2011, he became chief of staff. His job was crucial to handle emergencies and help the community.
Lisa Andaya, an administrative officer at the University of Hawaii, Maui College, is Herman Andaya Jr.’s happy wife. They have two children, Kainoa (a boy) and Kiana (a girl).
At this time, in 2023, Herman Andaya is 51 years old. He and his wife, Lisa, care for their kids and jobs as this is their primary focus.
Herman Andaya did some important things while being the leader of MEMA:
1. He made plans for how to deal with emergencies in Maui County. He updated these plans to make them better.
2. He built relationships with different groups like federal, state, and local agencies, as well as private and non-profit groups. This helped the area be more ready for emergencies.
3. He talked to the public and did programs to teach them about emergencies and how to be prepared.
4. He managed places where people could work during emergencies and organized resources and information when bad things happened.
5. He got money from grants and other sources to pay for things needed during emergencies.
Herman Andaya explained that he didn’t use sirens during the Lahaina fires because sirens are mainly meant for tsunamis. Using them might make people think they must go to higher places instead of escaping the fire.
He faced some problems during his time as MEMA’s leader. This happened after a terrible fire hit Lahaina on August 8, 2023. This fire was speedy because of strong winds and dry weather.
Why Did He Resign?
Herman Andaya had a tough time as the leader of MEMA. This was especially after a destructive fire hit Lahaina on August 8, 2023. The fire moved fast because of strong winds and dry weather. It destroyed a lot of homes and businesses and made many people leave their houses. Sadly, about 111 people lost their lives. People who survived said they didn’t get much warning about the fire.
Some thought MEMA should have used sirens or alarms to tell them about the danger. But Herman Andaya said that using sirens might have confused people. He also explained he wasn’t on Maui when the fire started. He was at a training event for emergencies.
Still, many people weren’t happy with his explanations. Some said he was part of a group that cared more about politics than doing things right. Some even called for him to quit or be fired.
Finally, on August 17, 2023, Herman Andaya decided to leave his job. He said it was because of his health. He had a severe health problem that needed immediate care and couldn’t do his job well anymore. He thanked his coworkers and felt sorry for the fire’s victims. He hoped his leaving would help MEMA continue helping the community.
His Salary and Net Worth
While he worked as an Emergency administrator in 2020, Herman Andaya earned $114,744 each year for being the leader of MEMA. His net worth is around $1 million.
Herman Andaya had to quit his job because he was not well. The Mayor of Maui County, Richard Bissen, said they would find a new leader quickly because things are serious.
In a meeting, Herman Andaya was asked if he felt bad about not using sirens. He said he didn’t feel bad. He explained that sirens are mainly for tsunamis; if they had used them, people might have gone towards the mountains. He thought that would be unsafe during the fire.
But the people in West Maui disagree. Many don’t believe sirens would make them go towards the fire. They think sirens could have helped them get ready and be safe. Someone named Alex Calma, who lost his home, said if he had heard the siren, he would have packed his car and told his parents.
So, some people think using sirens could have been helpful during the fire, while others have different thoughts.