Sunday Morning Quake Shocks Leeward Oahu

Janette Mukai
Janette Mukai
Flames shoot from the Tesoro refinery in Kalaeloa
Flames shoot from the Tesoro refinery in Kalaeloa

by Leland Kim

KAPOLEI (KHNL) - It was a rude awakening for leeward Oahu residents.  They were also jarred out of bed this morning.  With no power, they tried to figure out what was going on.

"We were sleeping in on Sunday morning," said Adrienne Vicente, a Kapolei resident. "We woke up to the house shaking violently.  It was scary."

Some expected the worst.

"At first, I thought it was the North Korea thing happening, so I thought it was that because it was unusual at first," said Michael Aweau, a Nanakuli resident.

For others, it was sheer pandemonium.

"I just ran outside to make sure it was an earthquake and I could hear everybody yelling," said Paul Keohokapu.

"I just ran upstairs and my brother came upstairs and he was screaming," said Sydney Murray, who lives in Kapolei.

For many Hawaii residents, it was their first experience with a major earthquake.

"I was kind of in shock," said Chanon Alcon, of Kapolei. "I never felt anything like that before."

With an island-wide power outage, people in Kapolei lined up to get the bare necessities:  ice, water, and food.

And at Campbell Industrial Park, oil refineries shut down operations.  Emergency response teams were on hand.  Plumes of smoke bellowed in the air and flames shot out from smoke stacks.

"It's not particularly normal, but what it is, is a safety device so that when there is some sort of a shutdown, something that's not normal in the process, that serves as a release," said Jeanette Mukai, a spokesperson for Tesoro Refinery.

"Otherwise the worse case scenario would be an explosion."

There was no explosion, but Tesoro experienced a small fire at a processing plant just after 12 o'clock noon Sunday. It was put out in a few minutes.

As crews work to restore power, people in Kapolei are trying to get back to a normal life.

"I'm from the mainland and I didn't feel any and I come here and now I felt an earthquake," said Vicente.

Honolulu Police Department says it had no report of any major building damages or looting.  A command center is up and running, and police officers are ready to handle emergencies as they come up.