KEAUKAHA, Hawaii —
Just when Hawaii National Guard leaders thought they could begin to transition their personnel away from the disaster response mission that formed in the wake of Kilauea’s eruption, Task Force Hawaii was bombarded by Hurricane Lane, Aug. 22-26.
The guardsmen persevered as they stretched their resources to meet the demands of a second natural disaster in a four-month period.
Since the start of Kilauea’s eruption in early May, more than 150 service members from the Hawaii Army and Air National Guards have assisted Hawaii County authorities in keeping evacuated neighborhoods safe. By August, the lava flow had momentarily subsided and TF Hawaii was preparing to wrap up the operation.
“We were expecting it to be a pretty quiet rotation,” said Army 1st Sgt. Mark Tiwanak, from Bravo Company, 777th Aviation Battalion. “We take over steady-state [operations] and we slowly close down the operation. Should be a nice quiet mission, that’s what we were expecting. We were in the process [of] learning the operations … when we received the hurricane warning. I knew right away I needed to identify my command team and develop communications through the ranks within a short time frame.”
The response to any disaster is tiered. Phase One is prepare, Phase Two is response, and Phase Three is…