Tuesday, October 17, 2006

How I Spent my Birthday

By now most people have heard that Hawaii had a significant earthquake on Sunday ("at 7:07, a 6.6 in the 808", as they are saying here). Yes it was a big earthquake and it was very long. The cat tried to kill himself by trying to jump out of the bedroom window. Luckily he was stopped by the glass and the screen. I also heard reports that people's pet fish also attempted jumping out of their fish tanks. All I remember was thinking at like, 7:06:56 (yes, I knew exactly what second it was) "Why am I up?" and then it hit. Then I remember saying, "I'm scared" to my hubby to which he replied, "Go back to bed". Almost right after he told me to go back to bed a second earthquake hit, much faster and shorter than the previous one. Okay, that's when I freaked out.

Once the shaking and rumbling stopped I ran downstairs to see about everyone else in the house (all in-laws, by the way) and to my embarrassment my mother in law kept saying she thought that I and her son were having "sexy sexy" and "crazies" up above her (our bedroom is right above hers). Meanwhile we are all verifying that we felt it and no one is hurt.

I think very short term, meaning, I really don't think. Everyone almost immediately said to go call my parents on the Big Island to check if they're okay. Oh, crap. There IS a volcano on that island. So I ran upstairs and called my mom and dad and they were laughing. My Dad said he thought that it was the end. That that's how they were going to "go", death by volcanic eruption. After I got off the phone, the power went off. A few minutes later I called my parents back to see if they were still okay. They told me that the mayor of Hilo had already said on the radio it was a 6.5 earthquake. I called my sister on the Mainland and she told me it was a 4.5 earthquake that they were reporting. I've been through enough earthquakes to know the difference between a 4 and 6...This was definitely not a 4. Strange how the information was behind and yet ahead. At least in California they were reporting something. But because they said it was a 4.5 my sister thought it was "nothing" even though I tried to tell her it was a "big one".

The worst thing about the whole situation is that it took Civil Defense in Honolulu took a full 30-40min to communicate via radio to the public what exactly had happened. It may not seem like a long time, but when you don't know what exactly is going on and you know we live in the 21st (? is that right? Aren't we supposed to be in flying cars by now?) century you think we could hurry things up a bit during an emergency. Maybe that's just me. Anyways, luckily I had called my parents and they could inform us that no tsunami was generated, which was the main concern. But for everyone else there was no news. And actually, the initial reports in Honolulu were not given by any officials, and it for the first 4 to 5 hours no specific information about the power situation could be given. Maybe they kept us in the dark to dampen any rioting. I don't know. I do know that only a handful of supermarkets where open hours after the quake and they were escorting people into the store one by one by flashlight. You could only buy things with cash and you had to wait outside until it was your turn. The mall near my house was actually pretty organized and within 2 hours at least, we noticed they had sealed off the entire mall and had security patrolling like crazy. I find it hard to believe that HECO could not even comment or suggest that the power would be out for so long.

But since it was my birthday, my family had previously made arrangements for dinner at The Kahala
(was the Kahala Mandarin hotel). This is the hotel where presidents from all over the world stay at when they have a lay over or they are visiting the islands and it's only like 5 min. away from us. When we got to the hotel we found that they were turning away their own hotel guests at the restaurant and were only taking people with reservations. They opened up another room in the hotel and made makeshift tables for the overflow. It was really strange because there really was no overflow since they were rejecting everyone. I guess because they had put in the effort to make a second dining area they put some people in there, like us. The makeshift dining area was very stuffy and you had to carry your buffet food across the patio from the restaurant to your seat. It was awkward because they would have angry people yelling at the front of the restaurant about how they should be served and that this was an emergency and then you'd have to walk by them with a plate full of food. I believe the hotel told everyone without reservations that the earliest they could take people would be 9pm. I heard a lot of people take the 9pm slot...Dinner was $300+ for 6 people.

All in all it was a peaceful day. Very relaxing and the weather was cool. Lately it has been very hot here, but on Sunday it was breezy and cloudy. Thanks to everyone who checked in on us! My phone was dying and it was very difficult during the whole day to get calls through. Texting worked great though, something to remember next time. A fourth earthquake hit this morning on the Big Island but it was much smaller. I belive we've had something over 68 aftershocked since Sunday. My mother in law is planning on selling her second car now and investing in a generator and emergency supplies. We were poorly prepared for Sunday's events but better off than many other people. It would have been a difference situation if the power was out longer or if we didn't have running water. I think we were really lucky.

1 comment:

all carbon said...

I am so glad to hear you are all ok. Especially your parents.

My thoughts are with you. Thanks for updating your blog.

Not to sound like a raving lunatic and harp on Peak Oil again, but instead of a diesel generator, your mother in law may want to consider solar panels for the house or getting a solar powered generator. In the event of an emergency (one that lasts longer than a few days) fuel may be scarce and become increasingly expensive.

Happy birthday, kiddo.