Earthquakes crippled Hawaii three years ago

By Zahid Arab - bio | email

HONOLULU (KHNL)- October 15th, 2009 marks the date two back to back earthquakes rocked the Big Island. Fortunately, no one died but the quake caused more than $200 million in damage, stretching to Maui and Oahu.

For many, a lantern was the only source of light as they dealt with the earthquake's aftermath.

Three years ago is when two quakes crippled the state.

"The whole house started shaking," said a Big Island resident.

The first was a 6.7-magnitude, then minutes later a 6.1 just after 7:00 am on a Sunday.

"I was so glad church wasn't in session," said a Kohala resident.

It reduced a North Kohala church to rubble, ripped through roadways and ravaged homes. A downed electrical line hit a water heater, engulfing a Waimea house into flames.

On Oahu and Maui, power was out as people rushed for provisions and gas for generators. Others waited up to an hour in line for food at places like Salt Lake's Islander Inn.

"It's better than not having any food at all," said a Honolulu resident.

People waited patiently as cashiers took orders by candlelight.

"I'm hungry so I'll take what I can get," said a Honolulu resident.

Travelers were at a standstill.

"We were in our room at the hotel and it was shaking and we decided we'd better get out of here," said a visitor.

Honolulu International Airport's Inter-Island terminal was like a campground. Hundreds of flights were canceled, thousands more were stuck. TSA agents checked baggage by hand, ticketing machines and gate ramps were out of order. Travelers passed the time anyway they could, while others became impatient and agitated.

"We have no idea when we're going or when," said a visitor.

The state experienced nearly 80 recorded aftershocks the first 24-hours following the earthquakes. But looking back at the destruction they left, it may be a matter of luck that not a single life was lost.

This anniversary re-emphasizes that we must always be prepared. With Hawaii susceptible to natural disasters like earthquakes, hurricanes and tsunamis, planning now may make the difference when it matters most.