Tsunami Hitting Home

I am sitting here at 2:40 am, waiting for the inevitable…and the complete unknown. The tsunami is projected to hit Kuaui in 20 minutes, and us (Maui) 20 minutes after that.  The whole Pacific is under a tsunami warning after the 8.9 earthquake in Japan. I think I first heard of the warning around 11pm, and I offered up my couch to my co-resident and her friends, one of which had just come from Japan! They ended up at the Kihei Community Center, and decided to stay. Traffic was so bad, they couldn’t get out, and I am only 3 miles away! My other friend and her boyfriend are visiting from Washington State, and I offered up my house to them as well, since they have a beachfront condo in Lahaina. They had already been evacuated, and I have no idea where they went.

After setting up the bed for any possible stragglers, I started reading all of the Twitter posts, and it got me to wondering if I was really outside of the evacuation zone. My friends from just below the Community Center posted on Facebook that they had been evacuated. At times like these, I am so thankful for Twitter, Facebook, and the internet in general. Then, I made the mistake of watching a video of a tsunami spread across an entire community and decimate it in seconds.

Oddly enough, there had been a quarterly meeting just tonight for the MCHV (Maui County Health Volunteers). I went to my paperwork, realizing I hadn’t yet completed a family emergency plan. I finally woke up Keely to help me ready for an emergency, in case we were without water and/or electricity. She resisted until I explained the possible magnitude, and that she needed to know how to do this. We filled up all of my cycling water bottles, since I had no other water, and I was getting word that the water would be turned off at 1am. I packed non-perishables, realizing I have way too many nuts and not enough other high-energy items. I do have Lara Bars and Coconut Bars though! Yum. My flashlight doesn’t work, but I packed batteries in case we went somewhere and someone needed them. I have lots of those! Important papers, such as birth certificates, passports, insurance cards, plus cash went into a plastic bag. Here, the threat is more water damage than fire. I still plan on putting all of my papers in my firebox into ziploc bags first. When I think about possibly being in the same clothes for several days, I am thankful to have my awesome hiking pants (Mountain Hard Wear), with side-leg pockets and an amazing ability to wick away moisture and dirt. Add to that all of my sports bras, and no worries!

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I watched while Kuaui got “hit”, which wasn’t very bad from what I could tell. After watching the Pacific Disaster Center website, and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Association, I decided things were okay, and I finally went to bed around 4am. If you look at the diagram though, we are right in the middle in the red zone. I started receiving phone calls and texts around 5am, which I guess is when family and friends in the mainland woke up and figured out what was going on. I was too out of it to really reply much, but I sure appreciated the calls! I woke up at 10am to another call and beautiful weather. As for work, it turns out the pharmacy I work at was right within the fringe of the damage in Kahului. They didn’t flood, but all around them did.

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This is a good lesson in being prepared for anything. If they had evacuated me right away, I wouldn’t have been ready. When you live on an island out in the middle of the Pacific, you need to be prepared for any number of things. If ships and airplanes can’t get to you, then food, supplies, etc. can’t either. I am really impressed with the work of NOAA. Here are some real-time graphs comparing simulation and actual tide record results. The match for Kahului, which is where I work, is extremely close.

Word to the wise: Just be prepared.

You can find information on Being Prepared HERE.

Don’t forget to have a plan for your pet(s), and especially have advance plans for anyone disabled. You can find some GREAT information on MauiReady.org.

Now, just hoping that Japan can recover quickly, and that my friend out there is safe.

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