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Hawaii Residents Braced for Tsunami


People watch the water recede from Hobron Harbor in Honolulu on March 11, 2011. Tsunami waves swamped Hawaii beaches before dawn Friday but didn't cause any major damage after devastating Japan.

People watch the water recede from Hobron Harbor in Honolulu on March 11, 2011. Tsunami waves swamped Hawaii beaches before dawn Friday but didn't cause any major damage after devastating Japan.

In the U.S. Pacific Island state of Hawaii, sirens went off throughout the night to warn residents and tourists of the potential for a tsunami. People evacuated from low-lying areas and coastal regions. Bill Dorman, the news director at Hawaii Public radio, told VOA's Kate Woodsome in a phone interview before the first waves struck that people were not panicking, but were stocking up on staples, such as bread, water and flashlights.

VOA Kate Woodsome's Q&A with Bill Dorman of Hawaii Public Radio:


Woodsome:
So this is happening in the middle of the night? People are waking up to these sirens?

Dorman: "It is. Because of the quake in Japan and the length of time that the indicators had, we did have some time beforehand to know that this was coming. The authorities did do a very thorough job in terms of getting the word out. For example, there was word before the local late news for instance, and then there were the sirens… So, by and large, I think, many people do know what’s going on, are aware of the situation."

Woodsome:
So are people fairly calm? Are they panicking, are they going to the stores? How are people responding?

Dorman: "No panic really but certainly people are going to stores. I happened to be in a grocery store where there was a run on water and on bread and the long flashlight batteries and things like that… But everything was orderly. I think one thing to point out is that people who are in vulnerable areas in Hawaii realize that they are, they realize that they are in areas that are susceptible to flooding, that with storm surges and other heavy weather events that do happen from time to time in Hawaii, it’s not a shock to be prepared for something like this. But again, preparation is a relative matter."

Woodsome:
How is the Coast Guard responding? There’s obviously a lot of boats in the area…

Dorman: "There are, and the general rule of thumb is to bring them in and to not put them out. Certainly the U.S. Navy at Pearl Harbor, which has a very substantial presence here in the state, pulled their, pulled all of their ships in, and that is the case with marinas and with other areas of shipping and boating around the state."

Woodsome: Ok. And, what are you telling your reporters to do? What’s the big story that you feel like everyone is missing?

Dorman: "That’s a good question. I think right now there are two stories: there is, what are we looking at in terms of the damage, the potential damage itself, to people first, to property second. And then what, what the response has been, not only on the part of authorities, but also on the part of residents and the people that live here, because we all live here together. It’s a relatively small place, and that, that cooperation and that spirit of "Aloha" is very important."

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