Sunday, March 13, 2011

Waiting for the Tsunami

March 11, 2011 Lihue, Kauai, Hawaii

We had been vacationing here since Saturday.  It has been a wonderful week full of amazing adventures!  Thursday evening we went out for a wonderful last night dinner at Duke's, and had a delightful time walking near the beach.

Back at the condo after dinner, we were relaxing and reading while listening to the sounds of the waves breaking on the beach outside our balcony, when my sister in law came out and said we needed to watch the news.  We turned on the TV and saw that there had been an earthquake of 8.9 in Japan just a few minutes before, and it triggered a tsunami that was heading toward the Hawaiian Islands.  As we watched the news and discussed our course of action and contacted the villa office for evacuation information, we watched as the tsunami washed ashore in Japan.  They had little warning, and sadly so many lives were lost and so many more are forever changed.  I have friends with friends and family in Japan, and are still waiting for work from their loved ones and here it is four days later.

We decided that we would not wait for the sirens to go off.  We packed our luggage, and all of the food and water bottles we had. Not knowing if the waves that would wash ashore would be as predicted at six feet or better, we also took blankets, towels and pillows from the condo.  We figured worse case scenario was that it would hit hard, and they would not care that we took a few pillows, and best case, we would be back in the morning to return them, and check out on schedule.

We all agreed that it was best to stick together, but take both of the rental cars, that were dangerously low on gas. The Shell station was right across the street from the designated evacuation location we had been directed to, and there were about 12 cars in line in front of us, so we went to the end of the line and waited.  The staff at the station were doing the filling so that it would go faster. we filled both cars, and made our way over to the school parking lot.  We were amongst the first dozen or so to arrive at King Kaumualii Elementary, so parking was choice, and we selected our spots next to each other.  The my boyfriend and his brother decided to walk across the street to the 7-Eleven, and us girls hung out.  The principal of the school came around a few minutes later and let us know they would be opening the cafeteria in a few minutes and setting up some televisions and making coffee.

People continued to arrive. Mostly tourists, and a few locals.  Most of the locals have Ohana (family and friends) on the island, and have homes on higher ground they can go to.  We spent our time cycling between resting and dozing in the car for 15-20 minutes segments, then going back inside to check the news and chat with people from all over the world.  The staff kept the coffee coming, and all of the people were calm and congenial.  Even the children were awesome! People were sleeping on the sidewalks, and on gym mats on the stage, and in their cars.

While not exactly how I had envisioned spending my last vacation night on Kauai, but our overnight stay at King Kaumualii Elementary as a refugee from the impending tsunami was quite a pleasant adventure.  School staff, FEMA reps and the Red Cross have were amazing, and so helpful. It in no way felt like a scary situation for us. I felt safe and relaxed, and so very thankful that if I was going to go through a serious, world recognized, natural disaster, I was with the man that I wanted to be with.  He was so calm, and so pulled together.  His packing and planning were so well thought out.  He impressed me, yet again, with his natural and instinctual abilities in stressful situations. I knew, that no matter what happened, be it the worst, or non-incidental, I was safe, and there was no one better for me to partnered with.

This further enforces how I feel about this man as my life partner!