Submitted March 9, 2010

Preparing for Hawaiian Tsunami

God is very kind to us and we can surely feel his guidance and protection. It was indeed a long day yesterday.

Our day started at 3:00 a.m. when we got a call to turn on the T.V. The announcer confirmed that we will be hit by a massive tsunami by 11:25 a.m. So my wife and I prayed together and blessed the house. Immediately, we started gathering our . My wife put together additional things that could augment our kit while I went to fill up gas for our van. At 4:00 a.m. there was already line at the gas station. Before 5:00 a.m. we got the essentials together and loaded it to the van and went back to bed to rest awhile. The children woke up at 5:30 and they started with their own personal kit. We loaded most of our gears to the van just in case we need to go to a higher ground. Not wanting to be herded like refugees, we decided not to go to any evacuation center. But if needed, head to a place where we ride our dirt bikes and wait it out up there.

The emergency warning sirens started sounding at 6:00 in the morning. I cooked a hearty breakfast for everybody to keep our energy level. My daughter and my middle son went to put gas to the 4Runner since we decided to go with the van, the 4runner and a dirt bike. The CRF450 will be used for scouting if we need to move from place to place.

My eldest son started putting together gears for long term survival which was stowed in the 4Runner. Our youngest who is eight also put his things together including his beloved pillow. When my daughter and my middle son returned, they related that there was a long line at the station and several accidents on the road. The radio reported that the road to Upcountry was jammed since everybody was headed for the higher grounds. In the meantime, there was a small plane and helicopter buzzing the beach and fire trucks and police cars were patrolling the road to clear the area. Our house is by the beach and we were in the flood zone but located on a hill so we were in the middle of the commotion. A fire truck passed by but did not warn us to evacuate.

At 8:00 we were very much situated. My daughter had a morbid but very pragmatic idea. The children wrote their names on their bodies for easier identification. My eldest son followed suit and went further by waterproofing a removable computer stick with his personal info and wore it as a pendant.

We continued to monitor developments so that if needed we can react or change plan accordingly. Part of the entertainment is to listen to the local radio station and have light moments listening to callers with their silly thoughts and questions on the incoming disaster. I asked everybody at home to take a bath and go to the bathroom before the utilities will be cut off. I did additional cooking for lunch to have the last warm and decent food if things get bad. We had also ice cream to keep the energy level high while waiting for developments. At the meantime, I filled up the three 50 gallon water barrels in the garden just in case there is long term disruption.

The first of the island chain was Hawaii or Big Island. In the past, it suffered most of the tsunami casualties. It was an advantage for us because we can monitor their damage and the effect of the incoming tsunami. We have between 20 to 30 minutes difference before the actual waves hit us. We can also observe the ocean changes through live camera on Big Island. It was forecasted that the wave will be higher on Maui based on the structure of the island and its reef formation.

The night before, the dogs in the neighborhood were agitated. There were lots of barking and howling. Normally there is bird traffic in the wooded area of our yard but yesterday it was noticeably absent. Most likely, they flew inward to the mountains. We also heard from radio callers that pets were acting crazy.

At this time, we prayed again as a family, thanking God that we were all together and prayed for his continued protection and guidance. In the meantime, the sirens are sounding every hour. Later on the sirens sounded every 30 minutes as it gets closer to the expected time of arrival. The fire department passed by our house once again but they did not ask us to leave. Most of our neighbors have already evacuated.

There are also light moments for us during the tension. We have a two story house and our eldest and middle sons sleep downstairs. My eldest son placed his art supplies on top of the refrigerator. My middle son brought upstairs his truck muffler and placed it on my daughter's bed. My guess was to keep it safe from the inundation. My daughter put on a make up so she would look pretty during the disaster. They all put on deodorant so they would not be stinky in case something happens.

Basically, the children were given liberty to pack what they want to bring besides their essentials. My daughter had firecrackers to celebrate if we survive. My eldest son had pillow covers that her girlfriend made and his drawing materials for a comic strip to illustrate our experience. My middle son had his flow master muffler and assortment of things. My youngest has his pillow, game boy and joke books to make us laugh. He also wanted to bring his bow and arrow but I told him that his Red Ryder is more than enough.

On a more serious side we also packed comfort food such as chocolates, snacks and drinks. We had raisins and nuts besides the usual canned goods. We also have a pot to boil and distill water and for cooking soups and hot drinks. We had extra changes of underwear and socks. Learning from the aftermath of major disasters such as Hurricane Katrina and the Haiti earthquake where the best and the worst of people surfaces, we have defensive arms. My wife and my daughter had .38/.357 revolvers each. I had a 45 pistol and the boys had 9 mm pistols. We opted not to bring long guns to avoid standing out and creating undue tension but I packed a foldable Keltec 9mm carbine that was compatible to the 9mm pistols and a .22 carbine that can be disassembled in two parts. Both of the carbines can fit inside the back packs. We also packed two .22 pistols as back up. I had sub-sonic and low powered .22 rounds for quite hunting if we cannot go back to our house. Each firearm has at least 100 plus ammunition. Each family member has a knife, flash light, first aid kit, fire starter, sewing kit, mini-tools, hygienic aids such as soap, tooth brush, tooth paste, disinfectants and other possibles/ miniature survival kits. There was redundancy and overlapping in our bug out kits in case we get separated.

As usual as in the case of the island culture, the tsunami came Hawaiian time. It was more than an hour late and more subdued like a Jawaiian reggae, not the rocking tsunami that would have rocked the island chain to oblivion. Praise the Lord. God is truly awesome in his wisdom and kindness. It actually came in at past 12:00 p.m. in four sets of tsunami waves. Instead of the massive wall of water it came just above three feet higher than normal, much smaller than surfing waves.

It was surreal because it was actually a beautiful day yesterday. The sun was shining bright, no trade winds, a perfect cloudless sky and blue water so we can really see the changes in the ocean. On our side, the sea was calm with small sets of waves. Then suddenly in the shoreline, there is discoloration due to the under current as the water receded, exposing some reefs and then covering it. At the harbor, the changes were more noticeable. The water in the harbor receded and only the muddy residue was left and then the water came in and repeating the process four times.

The children were joking that it was an excitement letdown but we are all relieved that there was no destruction and we still have a home. So we prayed again as a family to thank God. By 2:00 p.m., the next thing is to unload our survival gears and put it back in place. By the way, my wife just napped through the tsunami. I did not wake her because it was not significant and so that at least one of us will be fresh if things got worse. I told her she was unbelievably calm and she responded "We already prayed and that God is with us and remember I am a nurse - nurses are supposed to be calm. Besides, we also ate lots of grapes from Costco in case those were our last grapes." What an incredible woman for a wife.

After this, it's back to routine. We went to church for the 5:00 Saturday evening mass and helped out as Hospitality ministers. Prayed again and gave thanks to God. My older sons went to surfer's banquet and the rest of the family ate dinner at the re-opened mall and we were famished and hungry. When we got home we were so tired because our adrenaline wore down. I went to sleep in the living room because I knew I will be snoring loud and I don't want to disturb my wife because she was also very tired. The experience was a great exercise to learn from so we can be more prepared for the next time.

When I woke up this morning the weather was bad, it's dreary and stormy outside. The ocean is not as friendly as yesterday since it is churning and furious, but this time the birds were back on the trees.

If you want to comment, please do not hesitate so we can all learn together.

- Veranio

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