It was a very tough day in my Hawaiian Paradise. A tsunami was about to hit!
Eleven years ago today (3-2-2020), I awoke to the phone message of an evacuation due to the impending tsunami about to hit Hawaii soon. Half awake and without waiting for details, I started packing up. My father’s favorite Boy Scout motto “Be Prepared” kept motivating me to action. “Get up, Honey!” I yelled to my sleeping spouse. Before the 6 am evacuation siren sounded, we were on our way to higher ground.
Meanwhile, at a higher elevation, my son Mathew was also in preparation mode. He emptied the milk jugs and filled them with water. His wife Nora was perturbed at the prospect of cereal without milk. On top of that, she questioned his sanity for strapping his USMC Reconnaissance machete to his side. Mat was prepared to take his family to safety on a mountaintop.
From Mat and Nora’s apartment, we developed a strategy for our safety. First, we watched tsunami reports. Next, we played Scrabble and watched more tsunami reports. Finally, an hour before the storm was about to hit Honolulu’s shores, we put on our sneakers and prepared to take a walk on the wild side.
John and Mat were still engrossed in the gloom and doom of storm reports when Nora and I took off running for the high country. As we ran, I could picture tsunami waves lapping at our heels. It was surreal to see Hawaiians enjoying a lazy Saturday. We would not be deceived by their glib attitude. We were ready to watch the destruction of Kailua from the mountains.
Nora and I struggled through overgrown brush and ten-foot-tall grass. We laughed and pushed our limits as we climbed. Slowly our fear of tsunami destruction was replaced with the concern of meeting a wild pig or walking into pricker bushes. Mat and John joined us after Nora’s persuasive phone call with them. Mat’s machete made the hiking much more enjoyable. Our heroes also brought the water in the milk jugs and chocolate. All that preparation was paying off. Life is good!
At the summit, we saw the small and impotent results of the tsunami. Until that moment, I believed that all tsunamis create massive tidal waves that cause great destruction. Now I realize that some tsunamis, like the one I experienced, are created by an earthquake and cause the ocean wave level to rise. I now understand that the Hawaiians treat tsunamis with the same attitude New Englanders treat snow storm warnings. We listen, have the milk and bread in the home, and hope for the best.
My Hawaiian vacation ended with an exciting and unforgettable family adventure. I learned the lesson that the next time I hear an evacuation siren, I will get all the facts before jumping into action. I also gained an understanding of how quickly circumstances can change on a tiny island in the middle of the Pacific Ocean.
Today I remember that day with a smile. The day created a bond of love and excitement that lasts through the years.
"I'm thankful for some of the bad experiences I've had. They helped me with the way I view people and see them for who they really are."