POSTED: 8:46 a.m. HST, Feb 20, 2011
VOLCANO, Hawaii — National park officials have dedicated a $5.8 million visitor and operations center that they hope will help them respond to emergencies and natural disasters faster.
The 4,896-square-foot building, dedicated Friday in Hawaii Volcanoes National Park, was funded through the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act.
The building will serve as headquarters for law enforcement and emergency personnel, as well as a command center during major incidences such as eruptions, earthquakes, tsunamis, fires, hurricanes, air crashes, and search and rescues, according to officials.
"A lot of the response in emergency situations revolves around the dispatch center and this just put all of us right where we need to be," said Talmadge Magno, Chief Ranger at the park. "It makes us that much more response-ready, which can be critical."
All eight national parks in Hawaii, as well as Guam, American Samoa and Saipan, are served by the National Park Service Pacific Area Communication Center.
Established in 1916, Hawaii Volcanoes National Park covers more than 505 square miles.
Its wilderness area and Mauna Loa and Kilauea volcanoes attract 1.5 million visitors each year.