One of our co-workers at Comcast, Tricia Sihapanya, has family in Hawaii. This is what she told us about her experiences starting Thursday night.
When I turned on the news Thursday night, there was talk of how five people were pronounced dead in Japan. I learned about the 8.9 earthquake as my dad and sisters in Hawaii told me they were preparing for an aftershock coming their way.
Anytime there’s an earthquake in Japan, there is always concern for a ripple effect to hit Hawaii in the form of a tsunami. The sirens went off in Honolulu around 10 p.m.
My sister described the lines at the gas pump as from people in a panic. In Hawaii, if you aren’t prepared and there is a disaster, nothing is coming into the island right away. So everyone makes a dash for the pump.
Meanwhile, people in Hawaii filled up water pots and even bathtubs with water. News stations tell you to do this because of the volume of water a tub can hold in case there’s an outage.
My family lives just inside the border of the evacuation parameter, so they were able to stay home overnight. My younger sister made a run to get her surf board down at the beach. She told me she was doing that, and I made her text me when she made it back home).
My cousin, on the other hand, who owns a charter fishing boat in Waikiki, takes his boat out to sea when he hears of a tsunami warning. Out there the water is calm, whereas if the boat is docked, the wall of water a tsunami would bring would destroy it; like what we see happening to the coastal towns in Japan. The whole situation is unreal.
All of this was going on as I was a whole ocean away, glued to the TV and my phone…waiting. Will the tsunami hit? Will it be as bad as they think? Will my family be safe? What’s happening now in Japan? Will there be more damage?
I awoke Friday morning to a text message from my nephew in Hawaii: “School is cancelled. :)” As soon as I saw the smiley emoticon, the fear I had for my family was gone. I knew everyone was safe. It’s hard to feel relief when so many have lost so much, but in that moment thinking of my family, I did.
Now when I turn on the TV they are reporting more many hundreds dead in Japan and thousands missing. I feel fortunate that my family was able to prepare and that 48 hours later my loved ones are safe. When I turn on my TV in the days to come, I guess I can only hope that the news in Japan is more hopeful than the day before.