When I was ten years old and living in Waikiki, my school teacher showed us a film about a tsunami in Japan. I don’t remember any details–it might even have been animation–I just remember the lasting terror that film instilled in me. It felt personal, because my Dad was in the process of moving us to the north shore of Oahu, where we would be living in a beach house set back about 12 feet from the sand. It didn’t take much imagination to think that we might all be crushed and swept out to sea–and indeed there were some terrifying moments living in that house, when the surf turned gigantic, running through the yard and throwing spray on the windows–but thankfully the tsunami never showed up.
The danger is real though. Hawaii has suffered severe tsunami events in the past, and statistically we are way overdue for another.
So when a friend called at 6am on Saturday morning to make sure we knew a tsunami warning had been posted, it wasn’t exactly a shock. My husband already knew about it, but I had gone to sleep before the Chilean earthquake. Our own home wasn’t in any danger since we live way up the side of a mountain, but if Maui’s harbor was damaged there would soon be a shortage of supplies and gasoline on our very non-self-sufficient island, and if the power plant was damaged, who knows how long we would have to go without electricity?
So we joined the lines of people at the gas station, made a quick run to the grocery store (rice & spam are golden in our culture if a shortage is expected), and finished our circuit at the ATM machine.
Then it was home to watch the TV and Twitter coverage.
As you probably know, the actual event was anti-climatic, and for that we are very grateful. We know it won’t always be this way–and our hearts go out to the people of Chile, who have suffered so many terrible earthquakes in the past.