GHS and Mayors Council still in discord over storm operations

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Guam – The Response Activity Committee meeting held yesterday morning revealed that tensions between the Guam Homeland Security Office of Civil Defense and the Mayors Council had not yet blown over.

K57’s Andrea Pellacani had a chance to talk to Office of Civil Defense Administrator Charles Esteves yesterday. He confirmed that key Guam entities had met that morning to conduct a postmortem on their fulfillment of the island’s Emergency Management Plan during Tropical Storm Maria. Regarding the meeting’s attendance, Esteves reported, “The Mayors Council of Guam, all the important players, Guam Power Authority, Department of Public Health and Social Services … we had a good showing.”

The administrator used much of the 35-minute conversation to sing the praises of the newly enacted tier-based EMP. Responding to the talk show host’s query as to whether village mayors were aware of the new system, Esteves said:

“We didn’t write this plan ourselves. I mean, all our partners, emergency management partners … they helped us to write this plan. We didn’t write this plan in a vacuum. This plan took years to write. We had technical assistance from FEMA, and it was promulgated through executed order and copied to all our partners. It’s available on our website. We’ve actually trained them for the plan.”

The iteration of these details were clear indicators of his thoughts on who was to blame for the lack of emergency shelters during the height of last week’s tropical storm.

Clearly not having it with the implicit finger pointing, Jo Anne Charfauros from the Mayors Council called into the show. She disclosed to listeners that the Civil Defense head was himself absent from that morning’s roundtable. “At the end of the day,” stated Charfauros, “as far as shelters are concerned, Tier 1 should’ve been called, and shelters should’ve been opened.”

Incidentally, another driving force of the conversation was the language used in the public safety releases put out by OID throughout Maria’s development. Pellacani voiced her confusion as to why the Esteves’ organization, supposedly operating under the new tier system, continued to use the vocabulary of the now-obsolete Condition of Readiness matrix. A direct reply was not given.