Time and Tide

My phone had been beeping all night. It says something unflattering about my character that I never once thought, "Maybe someone in my family is having an emergency.  I should get that."  Instead I rolled over, pulled my pillow over my ears, and grumpily contemplated getting up just long enough to kick the phone down the stairs.


When the radio alarm went off this morning, the first words I heard were "one of the biggest earthquakes in history" and "tsunami heading for Hawai'i." 

I sprang up in a panic and, only half awake, ran over to my phone. There I found a series of text messages from D in Honolulu, telling me that I was going to wake up to a story about an earthquake and a tsunami, but that I shouldn't worry, because he was outside the evacuation zone.  He's a veritable prophet, my fella.

In my muddled state, I took this to mean that he had been evacuated already.  I called him, still mid-panic, and woke him a half-hour before the tsunami was set to hit Oahu.  He was... cranky.  And completely unendangered.  Both of us were mostly asleep, although heading different directions across the sleep/wakefulness border. 

While I talked to him, first on the phone, and then via computer, the first in a series of long, slow waves hit the base of Diamondhead, the nearest beach to D's house.  He told me that local word was that the tide would go all the way out - far farther out than usual - and then come roaring back in. But apart from these extreme shifts, the effect was much smaller than anyone anticipated.  D went back to sleep for an additional hour: he had to get up at 6 a.m. for his work call.  Apparently even apocalyptic natural disasters don't get you a day off when you work in television. Time, tide, and filming wait for no man.  

After watching the videos (traumatizing, awe-inspiring, sympathy-inducing videos) of water pouring through Japanese cities, however, D told me, "when there is a serious tsunami, Honolulu's preparations don't seem nearly adequate.  The evacuation zone isn't big enough.  It isn't nearly as extensive a plan as we claimed on Hawai'i Five-0, when we did the tsunami episode." He paused meaningfully. "Don't believe everything you see on the show."

"Um.  I don't," I wittily rejoined.  

4 Responses so far.

  1. Annie says:

    I was thinking this morning as I listened to the accounts on the radio of BBC reporters trying to get into the area just the right side of the evacuation zone around the damaged nuclear power plants as everyone was else was trying to come the other way, that we ask an awful lot of the people who bring us the news we crave. I'm really glad D is safe and very thankful that the tsunami's going east across the Pacific don't seem to have been as severe as was first thought. People don't think of the UK as prime earthquake territory but we do have some and I live on a fault that throws up a 5.0 every now and again. They do very little damage, but at least it does mean that I have some idea of how terrifying a larger one might be. We ignore nature at our peril.

  2. I agree, Annie. And there seems to be a strain of cynicism in our thinking about what journalists do (in academic circles at least). In my mind, it isn't so much that there aren't ambulance-chasing journalists out there whose coverage is exploitative, as that there ARE a lot of front-line journalists who are willing to take incredible risks because their idealistic commitment to the cause of knowledge and international, intercultural understanding makes them courageous. I think we tend to forget that.

  3. Emilie says:

    As soon as I heard it might hit Hawai'i, I instantly worried about D. Luckily, he had already posted that he was safe on FB. Quick on the draw, that one.

  4. He's a fast one, he is. (It looks like it might have been more severe in So Cal than in Oahu, in a way.)

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