KAILUA-KONA (HawaiiNewsNow) - Big Island residents marked the one year anniversary of Japan's earthquake and tsunami with a special tribute on Sunday. They remembered the costly damage along the coastline and reflected on the progress that has been made.
With the calm ocean as a beautiful backdrop, the steady beat of taiko drums filled the air. The tsunami commemoration near the seawall in Kailua-Kona brought back vivid memories of the disaster.
"It was a reminder of how blessed and fortunate we all were a year ago and continue to be to this day," said Big Island Mayor Billy Kenoi.
One year ago, the punishing waves poured over the pier on Alii Drive. The tsunami flooded hotels, causing millions of dollars in damage. At Hulihee Palace, water in the basement ruined precious artifacts. A house even ended up in Kealakekua Bay.
"The tsunami demonstrated the determination and resiliency of our business community," said Vivian Landrum of the Kona-Kohala Chamber of Commerce. "The quick approach and the rapid fire ability for the businesses and employees to bounce back was nothing short of amazing."
"It was very important that the Village Improvement District jump in immediately to help restore all of the public landscaping and public spaces that were damaged, which the district did very quickly along with the help of the County of Hawaii," said Eric von Platen Luder of the Kailua Village Business Improvement District.
Residents and visitors gathered for the tribute connecting Hawaii to Japan. Big Island Mayor Billy Kenoi took part in a ceremonial exchange.
"That sense of family and love and aloha that was present this morning, I'm really glad I came. I'm really glad I'm here," said Kenoi.
Canoe clubs paddled out to scatter flowers into the water that links Hawaii to our neighbor in the Pacific.
"We're back. We're back. Not only us, but also the village," said Alana Yamamoto of the King Kamehameha Kona Beach Hotel.