Monday, March 1, 2010

5 Observations on Tsunami Day on Maui

Tsunami day began with an ominous 3 a.m. warning and ended in a hot anti-climactic afternoon. I spent the non-occurent disaster in the van at the evac site by the Kapalua airport.

1) Cops: Last time I go to a government evac site. Cops wouldn't let anyone leave and were particularly dickish, even by the bigotted disposition typical of Maui Police. I'll take the jungle over martial law any day.

2) Shade: tarps, blankets, sleeping pads and a hammock transformed the van into a tent city, making the afternoon sun much more bearable. By mid morning, the unsheltered airport and the unprepared tourists (the vast majority of evacuees) were cooking. One man had a heart attack but was quickly revived by the paramedics present.

3) Food and Water: We filled all the water containers we could before we left. I also threw in the all the canned food (tuna & refried beans) and a jar of peanut butter before we left Lahaina. Not the best eating but it made the day much more bearable.

4) Communication: All day we had the van radio tuned to a Honolulu Station. Listening to the hosts' hours of bullshit for the few nuggets of real news updates was an exercise in frustration. The web browser on my cell phone helped get real facts.

5) Mainlanders didn't help by making panicked phone calls. While I didn't receive any of these myself, friends getting hounded by freaked friends and relatives on the mainland only added to the stress. This was especially true of those who didn't understand how a tsunami works or the actual dangers one poses. 50 ft of elevation is a safe distance and the waves were over 7 hours away after we received the initial warning so the acual danger was quite small. As usual, educating yourself before impulsively acting is a much better course of action.

Ultimately, the tsunami on Maui was a bust. Hearts out to the people of Chile who experienced the real tragedy.