Rep. Kymberly Pine, R-Ewa, and Honolulu City Council Member Tom Berg of District 1, both who represent the Ewa area of Oahu, called on Gov. Neil Abercrombie to declare a state of emergency to override the Hawaiian Electric Company’s IBEW Local Union 1260 strike so that power is restored to Oahu residents.
A storm knocked out the power of 14,000 homes and businesses Thursday night. As of Friday evening, Mayor Peter Carlisle was reporting 8,000 homes still without power, 6,000 of who live in Ewa.
Despite the blackout for so many residents, HECO union members called a strike and walked off the job without restoring power.
In a letter to the Governor, Berg wrote: “I would like to request that you work with our Mayor Carlisle and our President Obama, if need be, to declare a state of emergency as roughly 6,000 houses in Ewa Beach are without electricity thus creating an extremely hazardous condition in the district. It is unacceptable for so many residents to be out of power for so long. Please use your power and influence to store Electricity to Ewa Beach and Kapolei and the entire island.”
Pine said: “It is unacceptable for union members to put their pay before the safety of my community. Many people in Ewa Beach are already out of work and for them to walk off in a state of crisis is egregious. This is like emergency workers walking off the job during a hurricane.” But unlike a hurricane which gives warning to residents to prepare, the union made a choice to hurt people for personal gain. This is a manmade disaster by choice.”
Honolulu Mayor Peter Carlisle said the residents’ safety should come first. “It is critical that both sides of the labor dispute make sure that the health and safety of our citizens is everybody’s primary concern.”
Oahu remains under a flash flood watch until 6:00 Saturday morning. He says emergency managers are closely monitoring the situation to determine if further assets are needed.
The mayor also offered assistance to those people without power who have special medical needs. He says anyone facing an emergency situation should call 9-1-1.