Monday, October 16, 2006


After a week of vog (volcanic air pollution; think smog) and sticky humid weather, the Hawaiian islands were rocked by a powerful 6.6 earthquake yesterday morning.

The earthquake centered just off the coast of the Big Island, Hawai'i island, but it was strong enough to rattle my house on O'ahu.

I was in bed, of course. It was 7 a.m. And I thought a heavy truck was rumbling by my house (unusual, but not unheard of). But the rumbling got louder and the shaking stronger, until the whole house rattled and things started falling off the walls and shelves.

I was up in a flash checking on the kids. My son was watching early morning cartoons, oblivious. My daughter sat up in bed, complaining about her brother shaking her bed.

"Honey, that wasn't your brother."

By the time I got around to putting some clothes on, the house was shaking again and the power went out.

My 3-year-old: "Let's call Handy Manny. He has tools. He can fix things. He can bring batteries for the TV."

Handy Manny, in case you don't know, is a cartoon character. He's a general contractor, and yes, he has tools and fixes things.

I was pretty disappointed. I had had plans for a great writing day. I'd even had playdates for the kids, so they'd be busy and would let me work in peace.

Oh well. The playdates and their mom came over. We hung out. Eventually I grilled some hot dogs and Spaghettios on the grill (in torrential rains, mind you). I am very proud of myself, because that was my first grilling experience. Heidi brought pretzels and carrots. We had plenty of water (we even made tea with grill-heated water), just no power (we got that back in our town around sundown; others are still without power as I type this).

Lessons learned:

having batteries is great; checking the radio to make sure the sizes we have actually fit in the darn thing would have been better
having instant coffee or tea is great, too; having a grill-safe container to heat water in would have been nice, too (I improvised)
scented candles smell nice, but don't illuminate very well
having a good book on hand is key

I am convinced we wouldn't have been as ready and prepared as we were to deal with the power outage and resulting difficulties, if we hadn't survived a few typhoons in Japan where power could be out for days.

My friend who’s vacationing on Maui right now called after the initial quake, telling me they were heading for higher ground in case of a tsunami. I couldn’t tell her anything, because I had no radio or TV, but I figured the warning sirens would be on. Incidentally, we’re safe, because we live way past the evacuation zone and up a mountain.]

The people on the Big Island weren’t so fortunate. There was quite a bit of damage. Sinkholes and mudslides don’t sound like much, but Hawaii island is very rural and if your road is destroyed there isn’t anywhere else to go.

All in all, we did okay.

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