HIEMA NEWS RELEASE: Don Aweau Named Executive Officer of Hawai‘i Emergency Management Agency; Former XO to Lead Port Task Force

Posted on Jun 21, 2023 in Latest Department News, Newsroom

HONOLULU — Don Aweau, who helped provide support on Kaua‘i after Hurricane Iniki in 1992, has joined the Hawai‘i Emergency Management Agency (HI-EMA) as its Executive Officer, Administrator James Barros announced Wednesday.


Aweau most recently served with the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) as a senior advisor for the Interagency Recovery Coordination and Community Planning and Capacity Building cadre that responded to disasters nationwide.


He has more than 30 years of varied experience in federal, state and local government, including as a senior instructor with the National Disaster Preparedness Training Center at University of Hawai‘i; as a special assistant to the chairman in the state Department of Hawaiian Home Lands; and in multiple roles with the City and County of Honolulu Office of the Mayor and Honolulu City Council.


In addition, he reached the rank of staff sergeant in nine years of service with the U.S. Air Force, and served with the 293rd Combat Communications Squadron in the Hawaiʻi Air National Guard during the Iniki response. A 1984 graduate of Kalani High School, Aweau earned a bachelor’s degree from the University of Hawaiʻi, Mānoa.


“Don brings a wealth of experience and a history of engagement with the community that is vital to the kind of collaborative work we do at HI-EMA to keep the people and property of Hawai‘i safe from hazards,” Barros said.


The Executive Officer, or “XO,” is secondincommand at HI-EMA, reporting to Administrator Barros. The administrator in turn reports to Maj. Gen. Kenneth S. Hara, Adjutant General for the Hawai‘i Department of Defense and the state’s Director of Emergency Management.


“I’m excited to join the HI-EMA ‘ohana and thank Administrator Barros for the opportunity to serve,” Aweau said.


The agency’s former executive officer, David Lopez, has shifted to a new role within HI-EMA, leading a two-year task force to plan ways to improve the resiliency of Hawai‘i ports and alternatives, if the Port of Honolulu should be damaged by a hurricane or other disaster. The details of the task force were set forth in House Concurrent Resolution 40 SD1, approved in the most recent session of the Hawai‘i Legislature.


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Adam Weintraub
Communication Director
Hawai‘i Emergency Management Agency
[email protected]