From a mountaintop on Honolulu in the Hawaiian Islands, the following notes present a picture of the dramatic experience of those waiting the arrival of the Tsunami generated by Japan’s 8.9 magnitude earthquake.
2 a.m.: Well here we are 2 a.m. (HST) March 11, 2011 Koko Head District Park in a twilight zone.
The stillness and the beauty of the park belie the carnage of the Japan earthquakes and the tsunami we are awaiting. KokoHead Park is the highest and safest place in East Honolulu. So, flanked by neighbors and friends we unpack the car, greet everyone “happy tsunami night” and wait.
All of the animals seem to be comfortable—hopefully that means something. Animals are so much smarter than people. They are one with nature. If only we were. The book of Genesis was wrong to give man “dominion over” it.
Surely God did not give man free rein to do anything he wants to the planet—bend it to his uses and abuses, rape it of all its beauty and diversity—for his own benefit. What gives us the right to mine and burn and kill without care for nature?
Mankind has really pissed off Mother Nature. And I do mean Mother Nature is pissed!
From the first phone call at 7:46 p.m. yesterday – not sure when yesterday turned into today; (there is some magic at play)- Derek said “an 8.9 earthquake hit Japan” and we have been getting ready ever since then. Mentally that is. Physically, when you live along the Pacific Ocean and that close to nature, you are always ready.
2:15 a.m.: The 5th siren sounds…all is still…we wait.
The first Tsunami wave is supposed to arrive at 3:07 a.m. on Kauai. Traveling at 500 miles an hour the Waianae coast of Oahu should be next. The wave went ashore at Midway Island at the height of about 2 meters. Not sure what that portents for us.
The Royal Smart People keep talking about the models. How do you model a tsunami when Mother Nature is pissed? At the time of the Japan earthquake “Madame Pele” on the Big Island (Hawaii Island) shook the earth four times. How did they know about that?
The hotel guests in Waikiki, Ko Olina and Turtle Bay and Neighbor Islands were “evacuated-up” and we were “evacuated-out”, the new language of the Royal Smart People. “Evacuated-up” means being moved to rooms on the upper levels of the hotels; upgrades to the A-list suites at no additional expense.
On the last airplane to arrive, at the moment the airport was closed, was a couple from Iowa on their “trip of a lifetime” to celebrate their anniversary. Naturally every highway and byway was closed. No way to get to the hotels. No room at the airport hotels. Can you imagine being stranded in Paradise?
I wonder the homeless who live on the beaches were moved? Early evening we saw pictures on the TV of police knocking on each tent asking them to move. Now that conjures some images.
It’s daytime in America, I suppose they are waiting to see what happens to us. Being in the middle of the Pacific and a myriad of time zones from any major landmass, there is always a time void—a twilight zone. We saw the earthquake when it happened, early afternoon in Japan on Friday. The time here was early evening on Thursday and midnight in New York.
Sitting here in the dark, my mind delves into, explores and investigates. It is dark and I’m writing by the light of HoneyGirl’s leash light. I’m sure in the morning sunlight I’ll not be able to read any of these notes. I also know if I don’t write it now, I’ll get caught up in the drama of the day and this night will be tucked away far away. Ken asked if I was writing my will? Of course not! I have plenty of will. It’s the “won’t” that I do not have.
Yikes! Just as I was deep into the stillness, the screams of cats broke the sound of silence. That of course, set off every dog in the park.
A gust of wind whipped up the trees. HoneyGirl (the dog) does not like the sound of the wind. She cannot see where it comes from. We’ll have to move back to the car. Yes, where does the sound of the wind come from?
My daughter Marilyn’s home is high on the side of a mountain in “Sea View”, Maile – she and family are safe. My son Elmer lives way back in Kalihi Valley, he is very safe. But we in the high rent district have to spend the night parked in the car listening to the static of the am radio, while the rest of the world is connected on Facebook. At least that is what the radio is reporting. AT&T phone lines are down. For people without landlines that can be a problem
2:46 a.m.: The 6th siren just went off. This must be the calm before the storm. Or does that apply to a tsunami?
I’m impressed with the way the people of Hawai’i handle emergencies. Everyone cooperates. They are all so friendly and calm. Everyone follows directions very well!
Governor Abercrombie and Honolulu Mayor Carlisle are new at their jobs. This is an excellent way for them to get their feet wet. I can hear the difference in the voices of the Mayors of the Neighbor Islands who have been thru this before.
“This is not a drill
Friday, The schools will be closed on all Islands.
The Honolulu Mayor declared an administrative leave holiday for Friday.”
We have some minutes before the wave hits Kauai.
Now the “what if’s” set in.
What if the boat broke its moorings?
What if the house is wet through and through?
What if we loose power and the ATM machine does not work?
Yes, what if we loose power? Everything in the house is electric.
The radio announces that the first wave has come ashore on Kauai.
4 a.m.: It is now after 4 a.m. The wave has wrapped around Oahu, moved down to Maui and the Big Island.
Cannot see if there is any damage from our vantage point.
HoneyGirl is restless, Ken is asleep and I want to go home.
The “all clear” has not been sounded. Therefore we will have to use the back roads to get home. The highway has been closed since 2 a.m.
Home at last! The boat did not break its mornings. The house is dry. We did not loose power and the ATM machine will work. I hope I can read these notes later.
5 a.m.: sleep at last!
MarshaRose Joyner, together with her husband and two of her adult children, is a resident of, and an activist in many civil rights and other causes in, the Hawaiian Islands.
Due to a tsunami warning hundreds of cars line Kamehameha Highway leading into the town of Haleiwa as residents of the north shore community wait for the all clear to return home Friday, March 11, 2011 in Honolulu. An 8.9-magnitude earthquake struck Japan and sent a tsunami wave across the Pacific. (AP Photo/Eugene Tanner)
Leighton Ah Cook, Hawaii State Civil Defense training branch chief, left, and state civil defense logistics planner Glenn Badua discuss tsunami response efforts at civil defense headquarters in Honolulu on Friday, March 11, 2011.