Plan, Prepare, Protect: Mililani Disaster Preparedness Team Hosts New Mini-Fair

Maya Hirano, Copy Editor

      Located in the middle of the Pacific Ocean, the Hawaiian Islands are relatively isolated from the rest of the world and highly vulnerable to natural disasters such as tropical depressions, hurricanes and flooding. On April 11 from 9 a.m. to 12 p.m., the Mililani Disaster Preparedness Team will be hosting a free mini-fair at Recreation Center 2 to promote awareness on how to properly handle as well as prepare for such events.

      “There are those who are very ready for a hurricane, there are those who believe they will have time to run to the store the day or two before we get hit by a hurricane because they are too busy with work and kids to prepare now, and then there are those who believe we will never get hit by a hurricane,” said Braden Sakai, who founded the MDPT in response to discovering that Mililani did not have an official emergency disaster plan. 

     The fair will consist of five booths: Map Your Neighborhood, Disaster Kits, Pet Care, Communication/Amateur Radio Usage and Home Strengthening.

     “The information is extremely important to provide residents an awareness of how to prepare and the realities of what will happen in the event of a disaster. I don’t believe residents are adequately prepared because many don’t believe a disaster will happen, but a simple thing like a power outage (which already happens) emphasizes the reality we must plan and prepare anyway,” said MDPT member Noriko Salangdron, whose role during the fair is to host and educate in the area of preparing a disaster kit. 

     The event is being put together by MDPT team member volunteers in cooperation with Mililani Town Association general manager Dave O’Neil. Dennis Hwang, lead author of “Homeowner’s Handbook to Prepare for Natural Hazards,” will be a speaker at the fair to answer questions regarding home strengthening. 

     “He (Hwang) works for U.H. (University of Hawai‘i) and he would go out to locations devastated by hurricanes and look for homes that are still standing and then try to figure out why they are standing and why others did not,” said Sakai. 

     Salangdron added, “Our dedicated 25 volunteer team members are working together to provide information to the community with brochures, displays items and samples and a welcoming environment to encourage education and planning for disasters with their families and neighbors.”

     One of the key messages of the fair is the emphasis that “neighbors are first responders.” Neighbors are encouraged to get to know each other in order to become part of the solution if forced to deal with an emergency situation. Team member Teresa Landreau takes the responsibility of inviting her neighbors over to plan how to best help each other after a disaster.

     “An important message is that first responders and emergency services will likely be overwhelmed and have other priorities after a bad hurricane, so they may be unable to quickly respond to help everyone in Mililani with injuries and property damage,” said Landreau.

     Sakai added, “Most disaster fairs, although outstanding, don’t really focus on the ‘what next?’ after a hurricane passes. What do you do when you step outside of your home and see the destruction? How do you help your neighbors — do you know your neighbors?”

     Prior to this mini-fair, the MDPT has participated in multiple disaster preparedness fairs in Mililani: Councilmember Ron Menor’s Annual Emergency Preparedness Fair held at Mililani Town Center and the Mililani Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints Emergency Fair. This mini-fair is the first of its kind and is planned to be continued annually on a larger scale.

     “We are also planning on taking our message to our senior citizens to areas such as: Olaloa Retirement Community and the Plaza Assisted Living,” said Sakai.

     All Mililani residents are eligible and welcome to join the team. Currently, the MDPT’s main goal is to work towards establishing an official Mililani Community Emergency Plan. In the meantime, they are continuously focusing on spreading awareness and educating the community.

     “Whether they know it or not, every resident is already part of the team,” said Sakai.

     Landreau added, “I joined the Mililani Disaster Preparedness Team to learn how we can best prepare for a hurricane or other natural disaster. Along with other local residents, we have been meeting regularly and have learned a lot about what to expect in Mililani after a strong hurricane.”

     For more information regarding the team, visit