The earthquake and tsunami that started in Japan on March 11, 2011 brought an incredible amount of destruction, death, sadness, and fear. I ask that anyone reading this blog just take a moment to respect the gravity of these events. For some of you, I know that means you’ll pray. For others, maybe just take a nice moment of silence or just send some positive vibes to japan. If any of y’all reading this would take that moment, it would mean so much to me.
My Wacky Tsunami Adventure – March 11th!
My flight landed around 10:00pm Hawaii time. I’d just been on a ten day vacay from Hawaii to Florida to Minnesota back to Florida, to Washington state and now back to Hawaii. WHEW. By the time my plane touched down I’d been traveling for 22 hours. So as I’m sure you can guess, I was super thrilled to hear the tsunami alarms going off. All I wanted to do was sleep, but stepping off the plane and into such chaos gave me a second wind, big time.
Carly came to the airport to pick me up, but since we couldn’t call or text each other, it was a bit of a mess. You see, during an emergency all of the cell towers get clogged up making calling or texting impossible. Luckily, Carly and I both have smart phones and we literally used FB statuses to communicate.
“I just landed, Carly if you can see this I’m in Hawaii, but still on the plane.”
“Rose’s plane is 40 minutes late and the sirens are going off, yikes! Does anyone know her flight number?”
I’m just paraphrasing from memory… but you get the idea. So we kept commenting on each other’s FB and eventually we linked up. Facebook would actually become the primary way everyone kept in contact throughout the whole night. (I feel so validated that FB finally has a serious, legit purpose. Now the millions of hours I’ve logged in FB world seem justifiable, right?)
So anyways. My plane lands way late, and I’m all confused about what’s going on. Tsunami? What does that even mean? I’ve been out of the house for two weeks (reatreat + my vacay). I have no food, no flashlights. I’m probably low on toilet paper. I’ll need water. And what do I even do to prepare my house? I don’t have a plan. Uh oh.
Carly was in a real pickle too. She’d been in the cell phone lot waiting for my plane to land, and as she’s just waiting and waiting (because my flight was so late) the sirens keep going of and the doom seems more impending. I’m so glad that Carly is a trooper and she waited patiently to hear from me.
So now that we’re linked up, and together – its almost eleven at night, we have no supplies, we haven’t prepared for this thing at all, and its expected to hit at three in the morning. We have four hours to square away our lives. EEEEKS!!
Carly and I drove back to our base and braved the only store that was open. Of course it was packed. It was so packed that it actually took us 20 minutes to even get our vehicle into the parking lot, the line of cars was that long. Once inside, everyone was going nuts. Buying water, dry goods, supplies, booze, etc. We personally stocked up on water, snacks and pooch food.
After stocking up at the store we decided to check out what was happening and make a plan. Carly’s house is in a low-lying neighborhood and we assumed she’d have to evacuate. My house is on a hill, and a sign denotes that my neighborhood is a tsunami safe zone. The assumed plan was for Carly and her pets to come hunker down at my house. We found some MP’s doing evacuation noticies and our assumptions were confirmed. Carly’s house = not safe. My house = shelter.
We saw on FB that our friend Megan was also being evacuated, so we swung by her house and told her to come hunker down with us as well. Why not make it a party, right? Megan has a dog, a cat, and a husband. Carly has two doggies. I have my pooch. So all in all, it would be a full, fun, animal-friendly house.
I kept updating my FB status letting my friends know they could come seek safety with us, and that their pets were more than welcomed. (I can’t even imagine evacuating and not being able to bring JJ with me. I literally get sick just thinking about it).
The Scary Part
So I finally get home, GREET MY EXCITED POOCH WHO I HAVEN’T SEEN IN TEN WHOLE DAYS, and turn on the TV. The footage from Japan is plastering across the screen and they’re making predictions about wave heights and arrival times for us. This thing, this giant 100-foot-deep wave is confirmed and headed our way. I’ve lived through many a hurricane and tornado. I’ve rode out storms. But something about the massive wall of water coming towards you creates a unique sense of impending doom.
So we just tried to say aware? I guess? We kept the news on, and all of us had our laptops out. Since we couldn’t use our phones, we were all using social media to update everyone about our situation. I was posting that anyone who needed a place to stay could come to my house. I was letting family know I was back in Hawaii and okay. It was just a weird, chaotic time. And thank God for FB! Seriously, I can’t say it enough.
What should we do? So many questions.
The drama I personally have with a tsunami is that I don’t really know what to do. Do I pack a backpack of my photos and keep my sneaks by the door so if I need to literally run for it I can? Do we practice scampering to the roof? If this thing really comes, and the water really rises, what do we do? How do I maximize the hour or so I now have before it hits? Do I grab up all of my first floor valuables and schlep them upstairs?
To say that I felt unprepared was an understatement. I know what to do in a hurricane. I know how to hide in a bathtub under a mattress if a tornado is coming my way. But what the eff is one to do in a tsunami?
So we sat around for a couple hours.
At first I went nuts trying to make the house all welcoming and nice. I was so unprepared for guests! Luckily, I had done a good amount of cleaning and tidying before I left on my trip – so the house was presentable. But I was all flustered about making everyone comfy, so I spent a couple hours scurrying around making sure there was plenty of toilet papers to go around, and that everyone knew where to find clean towels. etc. Finally Carly talked some sense into me and I simmered.
We ate some snacks. And I was so exhausted I just kind sat on the couch and nodded in and out of sleep. Dear sweet Carly made me dinner. We ate corn dogs. Literally, I got to choose a possible last meal… and I went with corn dogs. I’m not even sure what that says about me, but I think it might mean something awesome.
We took all of our important documents, and got them together and put them in ziplocks. I had my marriage certificate, birth certificate, nursing license, etc., all that jazz safe and on me. I think that was one of the smartest things we did.
We also gathered all of the candles and lighters and flashlights so they’d be in one spot and easy to access if we lost power. I filled the bathtub up so we’d have a freshwater supply. That one may have been overkill. But then again, if there wasn’t any running water and we were stuck in the house for a while, I bet everyone would have been pretty durn thankful for that tub!
We knew the estimated time the wave should hit our island was around 3:20-something in the morning. So we just sorta stayed awake and watching the news and played it by ear. We didn’t really have a plan on what we’d do if the house started to fill with water, I still don’t know what to do.
Finally it was like four in the morning and we assumed the worst of what could happen, happened. So we went to bed. Carlita and I took our doggies upstairs and we all got snuggly. As the morning grew out, cell service started to kinda come back to us. Then it was a nonstop buzzing of texts and calls as family and friends checked in on us. So we really didn’t sleep too much at all, but at least our loved ones who had been worried about us were able to check in. Its nice to be loved, its nice to know that people were worried about our safety and well-being.
Looking back, I have NO idea how we didn’t get hit worse. I have no idea how that water went around us and hit California. I don’t understand it, and I probably don’t want to. But for whatever reason Hawaii was (mostly) spared, I thank God.
The Reality Now – JAPAN
What’s happening in Japan now is just tearing out my heart. All of the dead and dying. The displaced people. Those who can’t get in touch with their loved ones. The reactors and the brave brave people trying to work on them. The radiation and the terror its causing. People who have lost everything they owned. I could just go on and on… the situation is far too immense to even try to understand, let alone describe in a blog.
The other day I wrote a small prayer for Japan:
Dear God: please heal, protect, comfort and be with the people of Japan. Cool off the reactors, protect the people from radiation, unite loved ones who are still separated from each other. Bring the hungry food, the thirsty clean water, let the devastated have arms to cry in. Please God, I PRAY FOR JAPAN.
Prayers, good vibes, money, volunteers, donations, water, clothing, flights out of there… help is needed in so many different forms right now. I’m not even sure how to wrap this up, how to properly end this blog with tact and the proper amount of reverence for the situation – so I’ll just say that my heart goes out to Japan and all of the people affected by this disaster, and they are all in my prayers.