Friday, March 11, 2011

What to do when there is a really what do you do?

Aloha and I am sorry I have not been keeping up with our adventures.  I guess I felt it was really hard to update in a short blog on how everything has changed in our family, but after last night I feel like there will be questions coming from our friends and family on the mainland.

Yesterday was a completely normal Thursday for us.  Madelyn went to her weekly Gymboree class followed by our lunch date with some friends from class and our typical commissary stop at Pearl Harbor.  Andy was lucky with a short day at work, so spent spent his afternoon on the Ko Olina golf course.  We had a nice family dinner and put Madelyn to bed. It was finally our time to unwind and watch our favorite Thursday night shows.  Around 9 pm the stationed was interrupted with breaking news about the earthquakes in Japan followed by a Tsunami warning for Hawaii.

Now I have grown up with lots of tornado and snow storm warnings and Andy was use to hurricanes, but what do you do when there is a tsunami threat. We had no clue! Our first thought was our mom's and them waking up to the news there is a tsunami headed towards Hawaii, so we waited till the appropriate hour and called them since we had no idea what cell service we were going to have after the tsunami. Luckily it hadn't even crossed my mom's mind that tsunami might be a threat, but she did know about the earthquake in Japan and on the big island because she has an app for that. I could tell they thought we were crazy to ride it out in our house, especially since we are less than a mile from the beach, but we (Andy mainly) was sure this was not going to be as bad as they were predicting.

The news coverage was just like any extreme event.  They kept saying to check the evacuation zones and take appropriate actions and get to higher ground in Aloha style.  What is Aloha style? I am not exactly sure, but I hoped it was not the laid back leisure attitude, cause this was not the time for that.  We googled how to prepare your home for tsunami and there was nothing. We referenced the evacuation map and thought we really weren't in any danger so we prepped the house for the loss of water and power and moved what we really needed to higher ground just in case we could not access the bottom floor.

The pacific tsunami warning center issued a warning signal every hour, that sounds exactly like a tornado warning and would not make and predictions until the tsunami hit midway island. Our home is located 46 ft above sea level and they were predicting a 6ft increase, but after the horrific pictures from Japan I was not willing to risk it, so in the last 50 minutes before the wave, we packed the car and hit the road.

We headed towards schofield barracks, which is in the middle of the island, and stopped at the Walmart parking lot just outside of Waipahu hoping we could wait it out, but not be to far from our home. When we arrived it was camp city.  People we sleeping in their cars, tents, and on blowup mattresses on sidewalks. It was packed on the higher level parking lots so we took a spot in the lower parking lot and watched the clock waiting for 3:21 am. It began to rain around 3:19 am and we were all piled in the car, Madelyn watching a movie, me on facebook, and Andy with Zoe in the front seat waiting eagerly for the big hit. 3:21 came and went and there was nothing.  The radio personalities began joking on how there was no change and people were out on the beach watching the waves do...nothing!

After about 20 minutes Andy took our exhausted family back home and we all crawled back into bed.  The roads just north of our neighborhood stayed closed till 8 am until they finally made the "all clear sign" so all those that evacuated could return home.  I was very grateful it was not more than 2 ft swells and that none of the islands got anything near what they predicted. It was an experience I believe we will never forget and a story we will share with Madelyn when she is older. For now we return to our aloha way of life and are enjoying the sun and warm weather. Love to all our family and friends and Maholo for all the thoughts and prayers.