Our thoughts and prayers are with everyone in Japan right now as we reflect on how lucky we are in Hawaii to have only strong waves, muddy waters and cancelled charters today. Last night the tsunami sirens sounded at about 10:00pm, and some of us had to evacuate our homes to move inland. For those of us who hadn’t heard about the 7:45pm earthquake in Japan and the subsequent tsunami, we found out when the sirens went off and watched in horror as video footage showed the tsunami waves devastating Japan’s coastal region after the 8.9 earthquake. It is the strongest earthquake in Japan in 140 years and apparently the fifth largest ever, anywhere. Just last month, Christchurch, New Zealand suffered a ruinous 6.3 earthquake that has left hundreds dead and missing.
After a waiting game last night, the waves arrived in Oahu at 3:21 this morning and some people made jokes about the estimated 6 ft wave. We were all reminded however that it’s not the height of the wave that matters necessarily, but the nature of the wave – a wall of water moving at the speed of a jet plane. A coil of pure energy. But relief spread thoughout the early morning hours as we realized the impact on Hawaii was minimal and the ‘All Clear’ was finally given. Today, we learned that even California had more severe damage than our Aloha state, with Crescent City’s harbor destroyed, 4 people swept out to sea and serious damage to Santa Cruz harbor as well.
Although some folks talk about making a mountain out of a mole hill (and CNN reports didn’t help in the wee hours this morning reporting that we were “slammed” by a tsunami), the reality is that you just don’t know in situations like this – and we should just be thankful that Hawaii was spared and turn our concern towards Japan. In other words, we’re glad we have the luxury of saying, “What tsunami?” here in Hawaii.
As everyone knows, Hawaii has a unique and historic relationship with Japan. Many people here still haven’t reached their family and friends in Japan to get word that they are ok. In the dive industry, we work with a lot of Japanese dive professionals and take large numbers of visiting Japanese divers out on the water (including those who come to learn to dive here while on vacation). So, this all really hits close to home on a personal and professional level and we hope our colleagues’ families and friends are ok.
HOW TO HELP
- Google has launched the Person Finder to help find and connect displaced people and their loved ones. They’ve also created a crisis response page that has information on the emergency and local resources.
- Visit Redcross.org or text REDCROSS to 90999 to donate $10 from your phone to relief efforts on the ground.
- The Japan Earthquake and Tsunami Relief Fund (hosted through Globalgiving.org and working with International Medical Corps, Save the Children and other groups) is raising funds for relief organizations helping victims. Simply text MED to 80888 to donate $10 to emergency relief efforts.
- Doctors without Borders (Medicins sans Frontiers) has sent teams to the worst hit areas in the Iwate and Miyagi prefectures and has information on their website and ways you can donate.