SPECIAL REPORT: Tsunami Aftermath, Recovery & Renewal

Damage at the King Kamehameha Hotel
Damage at the King Kamehameha Hotel
Tani Golden
Tani Golden
Candi Hill
Candi Hill

By Brooks Baehr - bio | email

Kailua-Kona, Big Island (HawaiiNewsNow) - In the morning of March 11th, surveillance cameras roll at a clothing store in Kailua-Kona as the first wave crashes ashore.

"We were wiped out. We had no walls. We had no clothes. We had a our carpet was in a pile in the middle of the room," said Tani Golden of Beaches Resort Wear.

Tani and her mother opened their shop, called "Beaches Resort Wear" in September, 2010.

Six months later the tsunami threatened to put them out of business.

"Well, the tsunami came through all of the windows and broke out all of our windows. Took all of our merchandise and there was 11 waves in all and every wave would just do a little bit more damage and a little bit more damage," said Candi Hill of Beaches Resort Wear.

Each of the 11 waves, or surges, picks items from the store and carries them into the ocean as the water recedes.

The waves leave marine life - fish, shrimp, and eels - inside the store.

The first people to witness the damage show up by 7:30 a.m.

Seconds later you can see a man with a camera walking toward the water to get some shots.

Then another shouts a warning as the final big surge approaches.

"Hey. Yo. Let's go. Hey. The water's coming. We got to go dude. Run Rick!

That 11th wave was stronger than some that preceded it. Those men got out just in time.

"Every wave is completely different. One comes in whooshing this way. The next one is like this," said Golden.

Tani Golden says she met with FEMA and expected some sort of federal assistance , But it didn't come. "So for six months we had nothing. How did you get back on your feet? We had flood insurance. Without that we'd be bankrupt."

It took a lot of work, but on September 11th, exactly six months to the day after the tsunami hit, Beaches Resort Wear re-opened.

"We are very excited. Our, actually the tsunami for us was a blessing and it really was because we had the opportunity to start over. A lot of people don't get to start over," said Hill.

"Beaches Resort Wear" is on the ground floor of the King Kamehameha's Kona beach hotel.

The hotel suffered millions of dollars in damage.

Up the coast, the Kona Village Resort was so beaten up by the tsunami, it had to close.

Thursday night on Hawaii News Now at 10p.m. we'll check-in on both of those properties to find out how they're doing in the wake of the tsunami.


Copyright 2011 Hawaii News Now. All rights reserved.