My heart aches for the people of Japan. And it skipped a beat this morning when I saw on the news that tsunami waves would hit Hawaii within the hour. My brother's family and many friends with YWAM live on the Big Island. How awesome that God hears our prayers. I'm so relieved that they are all fine.
Tsunami swamps Hawaii beaches, brushes West Coast
HONOLULU (AP) — Tsunami waves swamped Hawaii beaches and brushed the U.S. western coast Friday but didn’t immediately cause major damage after devastating Japan and sparking evacuations throughout the Pacific.
Kauai was the first of the Hawaiian islands struck by the tsunami, which was caused by an earthquake in Japan. Water rushed ashore at least 11 feet high near Kealakekua Bay, on the west side of the Big Island, and reached the lobby of a hotel. Flooding was reported on Maui, and water washed up on roadways on the Big Island.
Scientists and officials warned that the first tsunami waves are not always the strongest and said residents along the coast should watch for strong currents and heed calls for evacuation.
“The tsunami warning is not over,” said Hawaii Gov. Neil Abercrombie. “We are seeing significant adverse activity, particularly on Maui and the Big Island. By no means are we clear in the rest of the state as well.”
High waters reached the U.S. western coast by 11:30 a.m. EST Friday, after evacuations were ordered and beaches closed all along the coast.
Sirens sounded for hours before dawn up and down the coast, and in Hawaii, roadways and beaches were empty as the tsunami struck. As sirens sounded throughout the night, most residents cleared out from the coasts and low-lying areas.
“I’m waiting to see if I’ll be working and if I can get to work,” said Sabrina Skiles, who spent the night at her husband’s office in downtown Kahului in Maui. Their home, across the street from the beach, was in a mandatory evacuation zone. “They’re saying the worst is over right now but we keep hearing reports saying ’don’t go anywhere. You don’t want to go too soon.’”
The tsunami, spawned by an 8.9-magnitude earthquake in Japan, slammed the eastern coast of Japan, sweeping away boats, cars, homes and people as widespread fires burned out of control. It raced across the Pacific at 500 mph — as fast as a jetliner — although tsunami waves roll into shore at normal speeds.
President Barack Obama said the Federal Emergency Management Agency is ready to come to the aid of Hawaii and West Coast states as needed. Coast Guard cutter and aircraft crews were positioning themselves to be ready to conduct response and survey missions as soon as conditions allow.
It is the second time in a little over a year that Hawaii and the U.S. West coast faced the threat of a massive tsunami. A magnitude-8.8 earthquake in Chile spawned warnings on Feb. 27, 2010, but the waves were much smaller than predicted and almost no damage was reported.