I was over at my friend Kira's house last night, having some wine and pizza and helping her relax before her PhD defense this afternoon. There was nothing abnormal about the evening at that point, though soon enough, that would change. Within the hour, we would first hear reports of a tsunami warning, the results of the fifth largest quake in recorded history off the coast of Japan. We would turn on the news and watch as the 13 foot waves rushed across Japanese crop fields. We'd watch in horror as cars were thrown about in raging floods and fires broke out in the water's wake. We'd look at the evacuation zones, thankful to learn that my house isn't in one. Eventually, I would go home, to watch the news, the internet and the sea as I anxiously awaited the water that eerie tsunami sirens warned would arrive in the wee hours of the morning.
Despite reports of 8 foot waves hitting Midway Atoll, Hawaii was spared. Some minor flooding damage and mud damage has occurred on the islands of Maui and Hawaii which were hit the hardest, but overall, the tsunami was all bark and little bite. Though, coastal residents did get quite a good show:
The front of the wave has now moved onward, sweeping across the Pacific to the west coast of the US. The tsunami has also claimed its first victim off of US soil from the coast of California.
Those of you who follow my twitter feed got a blow-by-blow analysis (for images, check out the local news slideshow). Others probably saw the global news coverage of the disaster. Though the worst is over here, it's important to keep in mind that the sea all across the Pacific will be acting oddly for the next day or so, so don't assume it's safe to go back to your regular water sports just yet. And while Hawaii got lucky, Japan certainly didn't. I hope that we all can do a little something to reach out to all the families affected out there.
Want to help? Here are reliable ways to donate to Japan:
Red Cross: Text REDCROSS to 90999 to donate $10 from your phone. This will donate to the general Red Cross Disaster Relief Fund, so if you want to ensure that it goes to Japan specifically, donate from their Web site.
Salvation Army: To contribute to earthquake relief, text 'JAPAN' or 'QUAKE' to 80888 to make a $10 donation or visit SalvationArmyUSA.org.
Convoy of Hope : A non-profit for disaster relief efforts. You can donate online at this site or via text message by texting TSUNAMI to 50555.
I road the tsunami out Thursday night on a sailboat that was originally docked in Maalaea harbor in south Maui. We could not return to the harbor the next day because of the harbor was damaged badly. We docked at a mooring off of Lahaina harbor and took a dingy into Lahaina harbor. There was light damage and at least one sunken boat at Lahaina harbor. When I made it back to Maalaea harbor there was much more damage. Many electrical boxes and storage buildings had to knocked down and were floating around in the harbor, 2 boats were completely sunk and damage was done to many of the docks. There are still many boats that are out in the ocean that can not get back to any harbor and my prayers go out to them.
It is scary to think that one wave can cause so much damage. Although the tsunami mainly cuased damage to Japan, the US as well as many other countries felt the aftermath. I was surprised to learn that Hawaii saw 8 feet waves. It sounds like the damage was minimal. Here in the Midwest, where the Great Lakes are all we have, 8 feet waves are unthinkable. I remember when Hurricane Katrina hit Louisiana; the mess was horrible. I can only imagine what the Japaneese are going through currently! My family and friends have started to collect money and supplies for Japan. We can do a lot to support Japan and those affected. Hopefully others will reach out to help the countries in need despite their being half way around the globe.