Big Islanders "Fortunate" After Earthquake

Vita Fleming
Vita Fleming
Terry Lewis
Terry Lewis
Bridge damage north of Hilo
Bridge damage north of Hilo

(KHNL) - The Big Island was the hardest hit, as it was the closest land mass to the epicenter of Sunday's earthquakes.

Everyone was a little shaken up, but when they look back on what happened, everyone feels the same way -- fortunate.

"I lived my life on the San Andreas fault in California, I've never felt an earthquake like this before ever," said Waimea resident Vita Fleming.

The big quake sparked a fire that gutted a garage in Waimea. Neighbors say the rumble broke an electrical pole, and the line hit the water heater, starting the fire.

"Lit it on fire so fast, it was unreal," said Fleming.

Fortunately, the woman inside got out safely.

Despite a break in the sprinkler system, patients also got out safely from the Hale Hoola elderly care center in Hamakua. A lot of the ceiling panels ended on the ground. A few landed on three patients, but they weren't badly hurt.

The damage was anything but minor on the roadways. A section collapsed at the Kawailii Bridge, just north of Hilo. That hole is estimated to be 10-feet by 30-feet. Debris was on the ground in many areas, making for a dangerous drive.

"There was these huge waves in the pool and I said to my husband don, oh my God this is an earthquake," said Keauhou resident Terry Lewis. "These look like mini tsunamis in our swimming pool."

It looked like a tornado ripped through Cathy Salgado's home in Paauilo. Inside, everything ended up on the floor. Outside, the earthquake broke the tile wall and the stilts on her house.

Seconds of shaking caused all this. A frightening experience for some. A great time for others.

"No, that was cool," said one young boy.

There have been no reports of major damage anywhere in the state. And there have been no deaths or serious injuries.