Monday, March 1, 2010

Eventful Weekend

Awakened early saturday morning by ringing landline & mobile phones... concerned warnings from mainland friends & family alerting me to the threat of an Hawaiian tsunami headed our way from the massive earthquake in Chile . A few minutes later, Tsunami Warning sirens began shrieking island-wide. Best reports projected the first waves to begin slamming into the Big Island shortly after 11am. Kudos go out to the Pacific Disaster Warning Center... they were off by only 5-10 minutes in their projections.

While my home, family and animals were under no threat of being swept away by massive waves (we live at an elevation of approx. 1300 ft. on the slopes of the world's largest dormant volcano), my studio was another story. By 6:30 am, I had pumped up on caffeine and was speeding down the mountain towards the studio to retrieve cameras, computers, storage drives, guitars and other essential items in preparation for the worst. The first thing I noticed was the traffic... lots of it. Gas station lines extending 100 yards or more into the roads, grocery store & market parking lots filled to capacity, a few incidents of rude behavior on the roads, but all in all, a controlled sort of chaos taking place all around me.

Arriving at the studio, I quickly loaded my loot into the car and headed back up the mountain, opting for back roads to avoid the traffic congestion forming on the main highway leading up the volcano. The back roads were virtually empty, the morning warm, blue, still and beautiful, offering little indication of the potential for impending doom. Arriving back upcountry, all of the roadsides were lined with the parked cars of coastal dwellers who had fled to higher ground, many of them, as we tend to do in Hawaii, making the best of a potential bad situation by setting up tents, BBQ's (gotta have food, eh?), cots, sleeping bags, etc. and vying for the little available shade provided by roadside trees.

Back home, I unloaded the car, grabbed cameras and headed for a good position to watch for the impending disaster... a friend's house in Keokea provided a safe, 2000 ft. elevation observation post complete with live television feed of Hilo Bay's webcam on the Big Island, the projected point of first arrival of the waves. From here, I could clearly see both the north & south shore coasts from a safe distance.

Just minutes after the appointed hour, the televised webcam feed from Hilo showed signs of surge activity in Hilo Bay, first water being sucked out of the bay slowly and then shortly after that, water surging back in. Over the course of the next hour, several surge cycles occurred, each one increasing in volume & speed as water was sucked out of and then pushed back into the Bay. Radio & TV reports indicated that the same was happening here in Kahului Harbor on Maui's north-central coast. After an hour & a half or so of tense watching and waiting, it became apparent that the potential for devastating 9 ft. plus tsunami waves rocking our coasts had been averted. By mid-afternoon, the all clear was sounded and the caravans of displaced coastal residents began crawling back down the mountain, returning to their homes.

Again, kudos to the Pacific Disaster Warning Center for their early and accurate warnings, and to Maui residents & visitors alike, who overall behaved in a most orderly fashion and did what had to be done. Disaster averted!

The bad news was that, due to the threat of disaster, road & facility closures, etc., this year's ART MAUI judging of submitted art work and announcement of works accepted for the show would be delayed until mid-day on Sunday. Tense, relax and back to tense in less than half a day. Can't be helped I suppose, though I am quite certain that, this morning, there are several members of Maui's art community wishing that the judge for this year's show had been swept away and drowned in the sea .

Fortunately, I am not one of them. Of the two pieces I submitted to this year's show, one was accepted. Congratulations go out to all of the other artists making the cut.

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