While stopped in the increasing traffic, I read my texts: Reports confirmed an 8.9-magnitude earthquake had obliterated the east coast of island nation Japan, and sea levels readings reported torrential tsunami waves. Reality sunk in.
In Wailea, I met frightened tourists fleeing from South Maui’s oceanfront resorts, seeking answers and comfort from residents. Most Mainlanders probably aren’t used to sirens warning of impending natural ocean disasters, and the graphic images from the news—including ones of horrific tsuniami waves chewing up the earth in Japan—weren’t helping any as I attempted to console these stressed souls.
I headed home to evacuate, realizing again that renting an oceanview condo was becoming less and less appealing.
Lower Pi‘ilani Highway was closed off for a short time to travelers due to its extreme congestion, and cars lined the highways, with families sitting on lawn chairs and truck beds along the roadways, waiting for clearance.
Grabbing a few items from home, I headed uphill to a friend’s in Maui Meadows and joined the “tsunami parties.” Although spirits were lifted on higher ground, I was in no mood to celebrate, as I continued to reassure loved ones back home while watching conflicting news reports from the Mainland versus O‘ahu stations.
It’s essential that residents remain calm and collected during emergency situations. If you are not already aware, up-to-date and consolidated reports can be found at Pacific Disaster Center’s www.pdc.org Website, and at the Tsunami Warning Center’s www.prh.noaa.gov/ptwc Website. Listen to local radio stations, NOAA Weather Station or call 1 (866) 944-5025. Also, my “plugged-in” pals swear by social sites such as Twitter.
Although I’ve found comic relief and a hug is the best temporary cure during times like these, our heavy hearts and hopeful prayers go out to the people of Japan and their loved ones. One way we can help is by visiting Redcross.org or texting “REDCROSS” to 90999 to donate $10 from your phone. And a few prayers never hurt…