Submitted March 14, 2011

Hawaiin Tsunami Warning Preparedness Story

On Thursday, February 9, 2011, my office worker whom I interact at work showed me what he printed from USGS, that there is a spike of earthquakes in Honshu, Japan. He pointed out that the intensity and frequency was increasing which started at 5.0 and went as high as 7.2. When he showed me those two days prior there were only 5, and 2 days after there were 15 earthquakes in Japan before the end of the day.

We started a talking about the probability of a mega earthquake and how it will impact us here in Hawaii. The conversation went on with what will be the last minute purchases that we should make before the weekend in case we have a tsunami and where will be the best places to go. By lunchtime, my officemate went to withdraw some cash, bought another LPG, some cans of chili, cases of water and so on. For me, I went to pray at a nearby church and bought three five gallons of water and topped my gas tank. At the end of the workday, we shook hands and joked that we hope to see each other on Monday, since Friday was a work furlough day.

At home, my son who was on the computer told me that there was an 8.9 earthquake in Japan. My daughter called her former classmate who is now living in Japan and she filled her in with the horror stories. At 7:00 p.m. before dinner, I checked the gas in the van and I started loading our pre-packed emergency gears and bug out kits. Each of the adults and older children have bug out vest that could make them self sufficient if they get separated.

At 8:00 p.m. I called my friend to get ready with his family and to pack because we will be leaving. We went over our options including places to go. We both decided that the safest place would be a secluded farm with a cottage in the mountain. My friend’s wife knows the owner and has access to the place. We decided to leave at 12:30am for a 45 minutes drive. After our conversation, my friend’s wife called the owner of the farm and we were given permission. I also called our alternate destination to notify them that we might go to their place. Both locations were a go.

By 9:30 we heard in the report that Civil Defense will be sounding the emergency warning at 10:00pm. At this time, my wife took the emergency and supplemental list that is posted in our refrigerator. This is a pre-planned list of things to do and lists of things to have in case of bugging out. My wife was methodically packing and checking out the list. The emergency signals sounded at 10:00pm, which makes the Tsunami warning official. It was forecasted that it would hit Maui at around 3:20am.

At 11:00pm, my daughter was worried that the main road to the higher grounds was congested with traffic and that it is hardly moving. I called my friend and discussed the situation. We decided that we will still go to our primary destination but also re-discussed the merit of the alternate location. We will leave as planned at 12:30am but changed our route. We will take the back roads and avoid the main roads. We also discussed that if there are obstacles on the back road that we will turn around and have enough time to reach our alternate location.

By midnight, I finished loading the van including guns and ammo. I included extra hardware in case the situation escalates to anarchy. We also decided to use two vehicles. I will be driving the van with my wife and my youngest son. My daughter will be driving a smaller SUV with my middle son and our pet dog. My children have also have the appropriate equipment to become self sufficient if they get separated. We decided to go with two vehicles just in case something wrong happens with one of the vehicle; we will still be able to move on.

Before we set out, we gathered as a family and prayed to God for blessing, peace of mind, protection, guidance and discernment. We also blessed the house that it will remain intact so that we may have a home to come back to. After we prayed, I turned on the back up solar lightings and switched off the main electric power.

At 12:30am, we picked up our friend and his family. They were ready and waiting in their pick up truck. Our convoy consisted of three vehicles. It took us about an hour to get to our destination. We drove slow and easy at the back roads to avoid unnecessary mishaps. I also packed the guns properly so if we were stopped by a police roadblock, it will not become an issue. For the handguns I brought along holsters for convenience and easy access.

At 1:00am, the utilities such as water, sewer and other infrastructures were turned off to minimize damage. Before we left, I filled up several 5 gallon water containers and left it in the garage.

We arrived at the farm at around 1:30am and parked the vehicles at the farm entrance to block it. Our families got acquainted with the farm workers who are staying there. There were about four women and they were very hospitable and caring. After exchanging pleasantries, our wives and children stayed in the farm cottage. My friend and I went outside to check our equipment including our defensive weapons. We had shotguns, AR 15’s and handguns. We were very discreet with the defensive equipments so as not to alarm our hosts, the women in the cottage. My friend and I stayed in our respective vehicles most of the time to double as guards for the women and children. We were monitoring the developing situation in our vehicle radios. Our pet dog was with me and acted as a sentry.

Staying in the vehicle gave me peace of mind. The solitude was good because it gives me time to meditate and pray. Praying makes me calm and provides me with discernment. It makes it easier for me to make decisions concerning the welfare of my family. Staying outside the cottage also gives me a good view of the night sky. It was so wonderful watching the multitude of stars and other heavenly bodies. It was very refreshing and awesome that it brings hope despite of the carnage that might happen.

Listening on the report, I found out about the following:

1. The wave was traveling at 600 miles per hour

2. The frequency of the waves hitting landfall was between 20 minutes to 59 minutes intervals

3. The third wave not the first wave was the most destructive

4. The tsunami waves that were hitting us were about 6 - 7 feet

5. The water recedes before the waves come in

6. Maui has the most devastation

7. Thank God there are no human casualties

At 6:00am, we decided to go down to town and go home. At 5:40am, the most destructive wave hit landfall. We waited for another 30 minutes and thank our hosts for their kindness and headed back down to town. Based on additional radio reports, we figured that the 45 minutes that we will be on the road, the Tsunami would have subsided by then. Daylight will also give us a visual of the things that are occurring and make responding to the threats easier. By the time we got to town the warning was not lifted that we have to go to alternate routes in order to get home.

We left our gears in the vehicles just in case we need to move again. From our window, we can see the police blockading the street below us because it was inundated by waves. When it was safe to venture out, my children decided to go down the street. They joked that they will pick the fishes that got washed on the road so we have fish for the Fridays of Lent. We pray for those who died in Japan as a result of the devastating Tsunami. Most of all, we thank the Lord in everything and thank those who prayed for us and those who sent their love.

- Veranio

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