Waiting for the Tsunami
written by Candace:
Your comments about this column are welcome ~ e-mail Candace at
founded 2004 by ron cruger
A place for intelligent writers
A place for intelligent readers
Dawn. Sirens. Civil Defense sirens. A phone call from the step-daughter
on the Big Island. Earthquake in Chile. Wave headed
way. Step-son bursts into the bedroom. Had a call from
Anchorage---tsunami coming. Rub our eyes. Turn on local news, CNN, the
channel. Checking the tsunami evacuation pages in the phone
book. Looks like we’d be ok. Yes, we’re in a delta
zone, just a hundred
yards from the sea. Heavy rains, hurricanes,
that’s what does our area damage, even more than tsunamis.
What to do?
Check supplies. Hawaii deals with these potential
natural disasters all
the time. Every year during hurricane season the hardware
big signs reminding everyone to stock up on the essentials.
Some do, some don’t. It was a big earthquake in South America
generated a wave that pretty much destroyed Hilo town on
the Big Island some years back. People still remember that one and
loss of life that followed. So, yeah, we pay attention to events
in that part of the Pacific Rim.
Check water. Collect
saimin packages, pills, documents,
towels, toilet paper, flashlights, batteries (Oh, oh—we need more),
underwear, gas in the cars
(are we ok?), books (for me,
anyway; take Jane Austen, leave Anthony Trollope). Check, check. Now
we hear the Marquesas have been
hit. Only six feet. This island
group to the south of us has characteristics similar to our island
chain, so attention is paid. Looks
like it might not be too bad
when it hits us.
Practice makes perfect. We’ll evacuate anyway. Bolt breakfast.
a.m.—time to go. We’re going down Kamehameha Highway and up a
slope to an elementary school. People sitting
on the grass. Bathrooms
near. Great view of the water. It’s actually a
beautiful day, sunshiny, blue sky. We get out the folding
chairs, listen to the car
radio. For some unknown reason, I’ve chosen,
along with dear Jane, a tome on the battle of the Somme
in World War I. I read about
the heartbreak of that mud splashed,
bloodstained event while sitting under a huge mango tree, swigging
water. Husband and stepson
playing games of boule, that ubiquitous
game you used to see in every French village. Watching the waves
through the Bushnell’s.
Each island is surrounded by a flotilla of
boats of all sizes out beyond the reefs where they hope to
ride out whatever comes. And
all the time we’re up here---back and
forth, up and down, now into this side street, now into
that one, goes a local drug dealer
on his old, very, very noisy moped,
and backpack on his bare back with a smile for everyone as
he passes. The area must be alive
with people needing their courage
for the day. Of all things, a mail carrier comes slowly up the
road—I thought the roads were closed
to only local traffic. Neither
rain, nor sleet….nor tsunami warnings stay him from
his appointed rounds.
The drug dealer
passes us for the umpteenth time. Finally
the word comes. The water is receding in Hilo Bay. The mayor of that
island is up in a
helicopter watching and reporting. How high
will it be when it comes back in? Waiting, waiting. The radio chatters
is happening. Mother Nature does not run on
our time estimates. Every thing is strangely quiet. On the Somme it’s
still 1916 and
men are waiting to go over the top. Another
drink of water. Laughter from the people behind me on the slope.
the water is returning in that Big Island bay.
Only a little over two feet we hear later, Maui will get three, Oahu
and Kauai, less.
All the Hawaiian Electric trucks which had moved
up behind us from their depot down near the water, can go back home.
No lines will
need to be fixed. We fold up the chairs, say goodbye
to neighbors settling
in for lunch before heading home.
back in place. Need new flashlights. The anticlimax comes. Feeling
tired from the strain. Don’t know why. Our
a combat vet, another veteran and an admiral’s daughter. If we don’t
know how to prepare and remain calm, I don’t
know who does. The sun is still shining. Turn on CNN. We’re all over
it. Practice run only. Wait for the next warning. Will
as lucky? I have often thought that high school should offer a
class in what I call life lessons. I got this idea from the
“To Sir, With Love.” We all need to know plain facts about life
that we sometimes only learn on the wing, or when
happens. Such as---life is not fair. Bureaucracy
will be something you will have to deal with every day of your
life. Get used to
it, and so on.
I know it’s a fantasy, but wouldn’t
it be marvelous to have practice runs at living before the biggest
tsunami of all---real life—hits us?