After Sunday’s Earthquake

Hello again, we’re getting back to normal.

I have thought of our ho‘ohana several times in the last three days: There’s nothing like a natural disaster to test one’s progress with how well they can “Nalu it” and go with the flow.

Come to think of it though, it’s probably an easier time, because it’s not a matter of your own self-induced struggle with productivity: When there’s an earthquake like this everyone knows what’s going on, you needn’t explain much, and you have a lot of company.

Not that I would wish this on anyone. While the last two days certainly qualify as a Nalu it! kind of adventure, they aren’t in that category you’d consider much fun to go through. Just in case you haven’t been watching the news, and wondering what I’m talking about, these were the headlines in my local paper yesterday and today:

Monday, October 16, 2006

“RATTLED. Magnitude-6.6 earthquake jolts Big Island Sunday”

Tuesday, October 17, 2006

“EARTHQUAKE AFTERMATH. Early resports show more than $40 million in damage; county seeking presidential disaster declaration”

I’m up early to write this, for the latest aftershock was a 3.9’er just after 5am this morning, number 60-something as far as the aftershocks go. 3.9 is very mild and normally something we sleep through, but we’re getting increasingly sensitive to feeling them after that big Sunday shaker; people here remain on edge.

We live in Waikoloa on the Big Island of Hawaii, which is just up the mountain from that first 6.6 epicenter ” when you look at those quake maps, we’re very close to Puako (9 miles), with Kailua-Kona about 30 miles south of us, and Hawi, where the second largest aftershock at 6.0 was, is about 24 miles north of us.

Our neighborhood is on a mountainside in the saddle of two volcanoes, Mauna Kea and Mauna Loa, both considered dormant, and so we get rumblers all the time. However that first 6.6 quake was definitely the loudest, longest, and most alarming quake I’ve ever experienced because of its proximity to us, and it did a significant amount of damage. Most of what was about waist level and up in my home ended up on the floor. No one was hurt. We had one ceiling beam that cracked through, but we didn’t think it was a big concern ” until the rains came last night with the newest twist: a tropical storm. The leaks started in several places and so it seems we have some roofing challenges.

Still, our home was built for earthquakes by design, and needing roof repairs is nothing compared to what others have to deal with here. I have no complaints, and in the spirit of opportunity knocking, have been purging my home of some clutter at the same time we clean up. Funny how these disasters can have you count your blessings rather than asking, “Why me?”

Unlike those on the island of O‘ahu, we got our electricity and water back within about 6 hours Sunday; internet service yesterday. The spotty to non-existent phone service was the biggest challenge for us; when these things happen your first impulse is just to call the people you love, and that’s what you try to do, sitting in the midst of the rubble. I was home alone when the first earthquake hit, and all I wanted was to get hold of my husband and my daughter, both who were down at the coast, even though I was certain they both knew to get away from the water immediately. A shifting-plate earthquake near the islands can bring us a tsunami here within 7 minutes ” not a comfortable thought. Luckily, this was a deep-earth quake, and of that type not strong enough to generate a tsunami.

There is still much to do here. Most of our initial clean-up is done at home, but there are other community and business concerns, especially now that Kawaihae boat harbor is shut down indefinitely, for that is where all our supplies come in ” fuel, food and such. Businesses here will be severely impacted. Schools remain closed. Adjustments all around.

Mahalo nui, thank you, for the emails and voicemails so many of you have sent me. It was so heartwarming to read them when I got my internet service back yesterday. Wanted to get this up so you’ll know we’re fine, however this will probably be my only post for another week or so as we get back to normal. Please don’t be concerned. Just know I have to Nalu it! in an unanticipated way, and in the spirit of our ho‘ohana, we’re helping our neighbors and local community make the best of things.

Mālama pono,



  1. says

    Rosa, I have thought of you many, many times during this past week – worrying and wondering, checking your blog and the net. I am so happy all is well – as well as it can be after such an experience. As usual, you put it in perfect perspective. Your outgoing approach and positive mental attitude makes everything better.
    There is a book in this – another book on Aloha and management and how to survive in a rocky world. No one can write it like you!

  2. says

    Aloha Yvonne, and mahalo nui for your thoughtful words. This has been an out of sorts type of week for me, and it has translated into more writing than I normally find the time to do, however more of the journaling variety versus the publishing kind. However, as most writers will relate to, it is that journaling kind that can serve to keep you the person you want to be, and like to be. And need to be.
    The earthquake happened on the third anniversary of the day on which my son got into his first (and I hope last) car accident, totaling his sister’s VW Passat by rolling it four times across an empty field. He was driving five other kids home from school; another driver on crack had decided that playing head-on chicken with him would be entertaining, and ran him off the road where an unfortunate gravel patch caused the flipping. The car was a goner, but all of them walked away from the accident without a scratch. The earthquake was sorta like that; mere scratches for us, but several need new cars here. A whole lot of people counting their blessings, as I did that October 15, 2003 evening I stood next to my son staring at his now useless, crumbled car off Waikoloa’s upper road. Magnificent car; in its last hurrah it had protected six young and promising lives.
    The first accident I was ever in? Decades earlier, the same age as my son, not driving, but sitting shotgun in a VW bug. Somehow, I was thrown out the rear window, another example of the much-advertised safety feature at the time, of pop-out windows that will not shatter. Bought my own VW bug a little while after that. Never thought about the connection to my daughter’s Passat ”“ a car she HAD to have, until the earthquake.

  3. Desiree says

    I need the results on the 6.6 earthquake in honolulu hawaii for my project so could u plz send that to me.

  4. says

    An update: Another 5.0 hit yesterday, Thanksgiving morning. A bummer for those who lost power with their turkey in the oven (ours was done by then), but thankfully, not much damage other than a few minor rockslides here and there.
    Desiree, another good source for earthquake stuff would be the news stations of Honolulu and their websites – there was lots of coverage. Google for KITV4, KGMB9 and KHON on the Fox network.