It was a little after 8 p.m. when I got a ping on my iPhone.
My girlfriend and I had just sat down for dessert at Cafe Laufer in Kaimuki.
Apparently, the 7.7-magnitude earthquake off British Columbia that earlier posed no tsunami threat for the Hawaiian Islands was now imminent. City officials were calling for an “urgent evacuation” of all areas in inundation zones.
And that’s where the two of us lived.
So we left our desserts — I don’t think I’ve ever walked away from a bowl of ice cream in my life! — and headed out. We were stuck in traffic in the parking lot for about 20 minutes before we got on Kalanianaole Highway.
Urgent evacuation. And we had less than two hours to pack up and head for higher ground before the first wave was expected to hit Hawaii shores. She had to evacuate with two cats and an overly excited Boston terrier; I had two dogs and a slew of camera and computer equipment.
I’ll admit, there was a part of me that wanted to stay home. We evacuated last time and, thankfully, nothing happened. But I knew that it’s better to be safe than sorry, so I grabbed the dogs, my laptop, a bunch of external hard drives, my passport, some cash and headed to my parents’ house.
We watched the TV news all night, waiting for that first, then second, then third wave to hit. Nothing. Which is what you hope for during a tsunami threat. It’s not like I wanted a huge wave to destroy the eastern coastline of Oahu just because I made the effort to pack and evacuate.
But what I didn’t need to hear was the words of geophysicist — and nice guy, in my opinion — Gerard Fryer say the forecast was “an overprediction” and the evacuation “may not been necessary.”
It’s no wonder someone pulled him away from the TV cameras and he never came back on air.
You can’t tell people that, not when they’ve packed up their homes and belongings, ditched jobs, and cancelled very expensive Halloween events in Chinatown to get out of Dodge. Not only does it make them feel stupid, they’ll likely not believe you next time you call a tsunami warming.
And that’s the scary part.
Yes, I was annoyed that I had to ditch dessert and evacuate. I wound up sleeping on the bathroom floor with my dogs and getting sick the next morning. But it’s better than the alternative — that I stayed home and watched my entire neighborhood get swept away.
So despite the sore throat, the lack of sleep and the searing pain in my lower back, I’d do it again.
And I hope you will, too.
We were at the Aulani and many events were ongoing. Folks traveled hundreds if not thousands of miles to stay there. A wedding was being conducted on the hotel grounds. We had plans to swim in the pools till 10am but that all changed while eating dinner. We were asked to vacate the lobby area, the hotel is safe from the 4th floor up and luckily we were on the 14th.
The kids, especially our 8 year old was scared, but not one of the 7 kids complained. They ended up playing in the hotel room all night, happily, together, and safe.
What more could you ask for? Glad nothing happened, hope folks continue to remain vigilant. There will be a next time and we should all be prepared.
Yikes. I knew Fryer was going to take heat for that as soon as the words slipped from his mouth. I just hoped people would understand he was, no doubt, stressed and tired and running on adrenaline just like the rest of us. Glad you agree it was worth it and would pack up again. I, too, missed dessert but, for me, it was vegan chocolate cupcakes. We ate them the next morning for breakfast, after we dubbed them muffins. Ah, the power of words.
Shelter-in-place at a Halloween party would be fun, as long as the food and drink held out.
Hey Cat … yeah, I remember hearing that too … and I thought the same thing … you can’t ever say that during the evacuation … because unless they were 100% certain that nothing was going to happen … then you absolutely must prepare as if something is coming …
… yeah, I had to ditch a night out with a friend … and face traffic going through and around downtown … but that was the worst of it for me …
… we overprepare for many things in our lives … so I think that overpreparing for this possible life changing event was justified … regardless of the final outcome …
… be thankful we’re all here to complain about it …
I was thinking that he should’ve been part of our communications training. Definitely not the right thing to say. There are other ways to say the same thing but make people feel good about following orders.
CAT: At least we have the technology to know it was coming. Imagine those poor folks in Thailand that did not! In Japan, they unfortunately had only about 30 minutes or so. When the sirens go, I go.
We were at Ala Moana and had no clue why Longs would be closed at 8pm! We were at the mall and didn’t hear any sirens or any warning of the tsunami! We even went to Ward and was baffled as to why every place was closed so early!
Better safe than sorry… ask the people on the Jersey shore who were crowing that Sandy ‘Ain’t sh&^&%$#t’ or something to that effect.
Typical scientist geek though, might have been unnecessary was being honest to a fault. But really stupendously bad form.
I was staying at Salani Surf camp in Western Samoa and was woke up at 4 am to my hit shaking after a small earthquake. I was so freaked out since we were feet away from the water and even woke up the camp staff who told us to go back to sleep and don’t worry. Two weeks later the infamous 2009 Samoa tsunami hit and leveled the Salani surf resort! After that experience I don’t mind evacuating anytime! People shouldn’t complain the government is looking out for our safety and a little inconvenience is better than being dead.
Fryer is a smart, honest guy, and I respect that in a public figure. The experts did their best to analyze the data and make timely predictions with the best interest of the people in mind. Such work is not 100%, but a best, well-informed, scientific guess about the unpredictable behavior of Mother Nature. Unfortunately, people always seem to allow themselves a reason to complain. I, for one, would rather have a guy like Fryer at the helm, who makes tough decisions in tough times and isn’t afraid to own up to them in the end.
Considering how infrequently we are faced with situations like this, I don’t think this careful action jeopardizes the public’s responsiveness to future warnings. And if it does, well, that’s where personal responsibility and accountability factor in. Our leaders can only do so much.
I live way up in the valley and I was home so I just stayed home. Didn’t have to go to the store to get anything or get gas, why add to the traffic anyway. Got texted from my boss to standby and if the tsunami had caused major damage, I would have had to report to work at first day light.
As far as the evacuation goes, better to be safe than have lost of lives.
I flew out from Kauai to Oahu the day before Iniki. I remember going clubbing in Waikiki because the news reports didn’t seem too concerned. Well, that next morning was different!! I knew there was trouble when the ABC stores closed. Since we were one of the last flights out of Honolulu, there were news crews filming us at LAX!
Be glad there are early warnings since we won’t get a warning before the big earthquake hits California!