Friday, March 18, 2011

Our experience with the Maui, Hawaii Tsunami from the Japan Earthquake - March 2011

It was Thursday night when my mom called and told us there was a Tsunami warning for the state of Hawaii from the Japan quake. This has happened to us many times over the years and usually it ends up being nothing on our end. Last year we had a good surge..but I believe no damage. I was shocked by her call though and thought it was a bit late for the tsunami because the only earthquake I had heard about was on Wed and it was something like a 7.8 (can't remember exact measurement) I had checked online for that and was so happy to find out that Japan was safe and didn't even loose power. I also tried to check for tsunami warnings but found none. No she said..there was another one today....8.9 (now upgraded to a 9.0) My heart sunk.. I turned on the news and oh those poor people! It looked like a bomb had gone off :(

We kept one eye on the news as we prepared on our end...for us since we live so high up the mountain we were safe from any threat of this meant mostly calling friends and relatives in the flood zone making sure that they had a place to go "Bring your pets too!" I insisted..I hate to hear stories of animals getting hurt and lost in these disasters. I was on the phone a lot at first trying to find out if my aunt in Kihei was going to go up to my moms..she waited last minute until the cops came to her road telling everyone to get to higher ground! I found that out later because after just a little bit of time the phones stopped working..I could receive txts for a while but could not call or txt anyone back. Most people I talked to lost the use of their phones as well.

We also turned up our refrigerators and freezers as suggested on the news in case of a power outage and we filled up some containers for drinking water and some buckets for flushing the toilets and for the pets. I washed a bunch of clothes and we all took showers just in case we would not be able to later. On line it seemed a lot of friends and family were doing the same.

The tsunami was due to hit Hawaii around 2:50...something a.m....then changed to 3:07 a.m. I believe. We tried to stay up to watch on the news as we did last year when one happened in the middle of the day. We couldn't make it though and went to bed around 1:30 a.m. Then just after 3:00 a.m. I got woken up by multiple txts from friends and family from the mainland asking if we were okay. My mom said she even got one telling her she better wake up a tsunami was going to hit! Like we wouldn't know? lol! The state of Hawaii gave us ample warning..they said they even started the warning sirens 2 hours earlier then they normally would. I'd heard that the sirens started going off around midnight..we could hear them over the news when they show news journalists trying to report in Honolulu. Family here heard the sirens down a bit farther from us..but up here high on our volcano (in our little area called Olinda) it's nice and quiet. My brother just 5 min down the hill from me in Makawao was woken up by them.

At that point we tried to turn on the news again and see if we could watch the tsunami live on tv. Our son had already gotten up and turned on the news in the living he came and hopped on the end our our bed to watch in our room. The news had the camera on the water..and it looked like it had some sort of enfrared (sp?) lights so we could see..but not sure if thats what it was. My eyes would just not stay awake I fell asleep and the guys said they turned it off before they could see anything happen.

Morning came and thankfully it was not such bad news for Hawaii..The Big Island was hit the hardest..I believe a few homes were carried out to sea. No deaths though. For Maui the worse part was up Puunene Ave. in Kahului. The water went up as far as Walgreens. My bank on the corner of Puunene and Kamehameha was flooded. My husband, Paul, waited at home Friday..not going to work until the afternoon because roads to his shop were closed. On this video below of some Aerial Reconnaissance on Maui... near the beginning it mentions Kahului Beach road and how all the cement barriers from the harbor are all over the road..that is the road he takes to work.

We could see the traffic and how bad it was using binoculars from our deck. There was another way around that Paul could have taken to work..but it looked really traffic-y and the news kept urging people to stay home and let the city clean up the roads. He had to get down there eventually though because we had a customers car in our shop and they were needing it back. So when he saw the roads seemed clearer..he left. Once down there he decided to at least try the usual road which was said to still be closed on the Maui County update page..but it was open when he got down there and looked fine. We spoke to others with businesses nearby who came down but closed up shop because there were no customers. Also everyone was dead tired! Most on Maui had stayed up most the night..and many of those who had to evacuate either spent the night on a road somewhere trying to sleep in their cars.

As for my I said..she eventually came up to stay with my mom after being warned by the police! Then she left my moms house super early going back way before the all clear was given. She said the road by her condo was full of mud and fish and smelled bad! Then when she got to her place someone yelled to her that it was not over yet..a huge wave just came over South Kihei road! She kept her stuff packed in her car and thought about coming back up the hill to us..but ended up staying there and is fine thankfully!

Just yesterday my husband had to go check out a car at one of the car lots we do work for and they showed him a car that had been parked at the harbor having just arrived for them to pick up. The water line can clearly be seen on are pictures my husband took:

Here is a clip from Maui County showing the rescue of a turtle that was washed up from the Tsunami. The Hawaiian sea turtle is an endangered species and in normal circumstances not to be touched..however this was a special circumstance and I'm glad they helped him back out to the ocean.

I'm sure a lot of people around the shore have had to do much clean up and I read that it caused tens of millions of dollars in damage..but other then that we are very fortunate. Especially compared to those in Japan. I was able to contact a friend I had met from Japan in 2009 and find out that her and her family were safe and farther away from the damage. However every day we think of and pray that others in Japan find their loved ones safe and sound.