Tuesday, October 17, 2006

My first earthquake (paca)

I saw that the Hawaii earthquake made some headlines so perhaps most of you have heard that we had one. It was centered on the Big Isle and thankfully was on land, which meant that it did not trigger a tsunami. It was felt all the way over here on Oahu.

I happened to wake up right at 7:00 or so on Sunday and five minutes later, there was this rumbling that I just couldn't figure out. It felt like a massive truck or the construction equipment across the street shaking the house. But there was no sound really, and I just couldn't figure out what was going on. My best thought was a massive plane going overhead but whose engine vibrated so slowly that it was beyond human hearing.

As you can guess, 1) I've never lived in an earthquake zone and 2) I wasn't really awake.

Turns out I was basically right about the low frequency shaking, but it was the whole island and not just the street.

N was still sleeping at this point and I was still clueless about what this could be. However, I had the feeling that I should grab B out of his bed. So with the earthquake dying down, and one picture falling from the wall, I scooped B up out of his bed and wandered towards the door trying to figure out if I should be in or out. We did tornado drills in school, not earthquake ones. By this time, N was up and, well, not happy.

Despite the fact that she was sleepier than me, she figured out what was going on much faster because she thought of the tsunami possibility when I still wasn't sure what I had experienced. Supposedly, in a tsunami, Waikiki is liable to be flooded up to 5 floors and we live on the first. There were no tsunami sirens yet but we grabbed our box of important papers (birth certificates and such), my backpack, and headed out the door, going up towards the mountains of Manoa valley where it's tsunami safe. The idea was to sit in a McDonald's there having breakfast until we found out if a tsunami had been triggered or not. Unforunately, by this time, the power company's seismic failsafes had quicked in and there was no power on the entire island, making every store closed and empty.

We ended up sitting in my school office eating some lukewarm oatmeal and crackers. After about an hour or so, we all went back home, still no power, and I read for a little while N entertained B. Then, when a couple hours total had gone by and it was clear there was no tsunami, I headed back up to school to read articles. Sunday is daddy work day. No computer work on the journal, but I could still read by leaving the door open.

The day went fairly normally after that except for the whole no power thing, which meant no power in the house to cook, refrigerate, or run fans, virtually no stores, and no traffic lights. By the time I left school around 3:00, a Safeway had opened. Basically, there were emergency lights in the aisles and they had powered up the cash registers. All bread, water, and ice were long gone, but I found a head of lettuce and an avocado for a salad dinner, as well as the next to last package of English muffins.

When I got home, N and B had had a relatively normal day with a trip to the beach and a long walk.

We then dined by candle light and took another walk around Waikiki in the dark with a tiny flashlight and this little flourescent glow stick that N had bought as a Halloween treat the day before by chance.

Virtually, every store was still closed, but there were tons of people walking around in the dark, since there was nothing to do in a stuffy, powerless hotel room for several thousand tourists. The ABC convenience stores managed to show why they are so successful. They had people lined up outside each one. A manager would take a customer in with a flashlight one at a time and accepted cash. Some people waited in line for an hour to get a bag of Doritos and a bottle of water, but at least ABC managed to stay open, while all the competitors were dead. There was one food stand with a generator serving food. And there was one single store in all of the 5 or 6 blocks of Waikiki that we walked which was wide open with lights fully blazing and packed with customers - the Loco Boutique bikini shop. Everyone else who had a door open was operating on dim emergency lights or a limited propane generator. This place was fully lit and showing it off to the world, blasting some of the only major light to be seen for blocks. So 12 hours after an earthquake, you might be waiting an hour for the last Snickers, but you can buy a brand new bikini, no problem.

Around 9:00 everyone went to bed and I read some by candle light. Then, with lots of shouting, the power came back on around 10:30. I turned the light back off and went to bed. Today, most things are back to normal.

And that was my earthquake experience. The biggest casualty was the milk and these fillings for a new round of dumplings that I had made up on Saturday afternoon. C'est la vie.


J said...

When I heard, the first thing I thought was, "I hope Paca's ok."

Glad to hear you're safe.

Anonymous said...

Thanks for letting your loved ones know you all are fine, and thanks for the description of how you were affected. Glad the lights are back on. Muffy

Sammy Jankis said...

My condolences on the loss of your milk and dumpling fillings. Oh, and I'm quite glad you're okay. I read on the news that there were no reported casulaties so I figured you were more or less safe. Glad to know you all weren't hurt or lose too much.

kristybox said...

Yep, that was exactly SJ's response to me whan I said, "oh no, I hope Paca's safe." He mentioned no casualties. :( At which point I thought, "oh no, I hope Paca's not dead," because that hadn't really occurred to me until the ever-sensitive SJ said it. (Sarcasm against SJ intended)

Glad all is well.

katze said...

Glad to hear that you're all fine. I laughed at your reaction to the quake itself, because that's almost exactly how I reacted to the one and only earthquake I've ever experienced. Only instead of thinking it was an airplane, I thought it was the cat sitting on my bed and scratching herself, and I yelled at her. When it didn't stop immediately, my brain started to sloooowly come up to speed, until I reached full freakout mode once the truth dawned on me. Heh.