Thursday, March 4, 2010

The tsunami that wasn't...

As promised, I wanted to chronicle last Saturday's events - the tsunami warning we never saw coming.

The day started at 3:00 am for Jon and me. The phone starts ringing. I immediately think it's work calling, and remember that my iPhone is most likely on "silent", which is why the house phone is ringing. We never get called in the middle of the night, on the house phone, unless it's work. Since I hadn't been laid off yet, I ran downstairs to try to catch it in time before the voicemail kicks in.

I see it's my friend from across the street calling, to ask if I'm awake. "No," I say, it's 3:00 am, of course I am asleep. Well, trying to sleep. The idiot neighbor behind me is loud, drunk and obnoxious this night, and I have already awakened several times to find out what the heck he's being so loud about. My friend says a friend from the mainland has called - the mainland is reporting of an earthquake in Chile (which I'd heard on the news the night before) but that the aftereffects of this earthquake are a potentially sizeable tsunami headed straight for the Hawaiian Islands.

WHAT? I am immediately startled and panicked. I turn on the TV, and as Jon rolls over to head back to dreamland, I relay the information I've just heard. The news states a tsunami warning is in effect, that the sirens will start blaring at 6 am, and that all listeners should get their Emergency Kits together and prepare to head inland for the next 6-10 hours, maybe more. (What emergency kit??)

Just as I start to really panic - a TSUNAMI? - the phone rings again. It's the mother of another friend (from down the street) - I didn't even know she knew our phone number, as she's calling from the DC area... :-) She can't reach her daughter, whose husband is away on lengthy military business. This friend was literally scheduled to move THIS SAME day, so her phone is at the other house, her cell phone is dead, and no one can reach her. I tell friend's mother I will drive up there and make sure she's awake and aware.

So, by 6 am I have already driven to a friend's house and induced panic there, driven her to the new house, helped her gather her animals (scattered between the old house and the new), gotten gas for the car, and driven back home. Jon's awakened the kids, prepared the stuff we're taking with us, and updated our Facebook status so people know we're aware and OK but can't take calls.

The sirens start at 6. Here I was, prepared for the sounds of an air raid. After all, we're trying to wake well over a million people to tell them to head for higher ground. On a Saturday. The sirens are wimpy little whistles that last for no more than 2 minutes.

Since we're already aware of the situation, we pack the car and turn on the TV for further instructions. They say to stay put, our area's in a "secondary evacuation zone", so we'll do more harm than good by heading out. Jon, ever the voice of reason, decides to invite all our neighborhood friends over for a gigantic breakfast.

Turned out to be the best decision of the day. We eat, laugh, watch the kids play, and ride out the "warning" as it turns out to be nothing more than 1-foot waves. Three hours later the warning is canceled, streets are reopened and we go on with the rest of the day.

It was another day to add to the memory bank - "what were you doing during the tsunami warning of 2010?" I tell my friend across the street that we'll laugh about this 15 or so years from now when we're assembled for Alissa's wedding.

My other friend's move was rescheduled for the next day and went off without a hitch.

Thankfully we were protected that day. Hawaii's last tsunami, originated from Chile in 1961, took 61 lives and destroyed millions of dollars of property. I can understand the hype, the preparation, the alerts. I'm just thankful it turned out differently this time.

1 comment:

Krysti said...

And all the people of the family said AAAAAAAAAAAAAMENNNNNNNN!

Love, Jon's Sister