Letter Re: Tsunami Evacuation, Kauai Style

Howzit J.R.,
I’m a newbie groupie to your site, now on a daily basis. I’m going through the archives, year by year, and am compiling useful info for my situation. I’ve realized that at some point, due to the number of visitors to your site, [voluntary] membership dues may be necessary, just to support the technical requirements of having it. No problemo. I’ve never seen anything like the SurvivalBlog site, so my dues are in-bound.

I’ve seen previous posts about the tsunami warning in Hawai‘i, but not from a local resident perspective. I’ll give you mine.

I live on Kaua‘i, in a flood and tsunami inundation zone. I work in the County Planning Department, and am very familiar with the geographical issues of where I live. I also am a Hurricane Iniki survivor, so I know of what I speak. The service you provide, if taken seriously, can be a matter of life and death, comfort and survival…or not.

My son woke me up at 5.30 a.m. and told me about the warning sirens which were to go off at 6.00 a.m., and that if a tsunami did occur, it would be at 11.00. I immediately thought “Wow, I got plenty of time to pack the truck” I woke up the wife, gave her the scoops, and told her to start packing. For me, I already had bugout bags and containers already prepped based on when I first started into your SurvivalBlog columns several months ago. I told my 21 year-old son and wife back then that it would be a good idea to pack a bugout bag just in case. Of course, they laughed, and ignored me. No problem, I did my prep. My wife packs a carry-on suitcase with clothes and says she’s going into L‘hu‘e to her work place, which is centrally located on the island. Then I notice the size of her bugout bag, and ask “That’s all you’re taking?” She replies, if we lose the house, I’ll just buy what I need. I really did have to control my face muscles – I told her okay, I’ll catch up with you once I secure the house. Yeah, I know, I know.

I didn’t need to join the gas parade as my truck was full, but my son did. That took him 45 minutes in line. He also filled up an extra 5 gallon container. I didn’t need to join the parade at the food markets either, as I was already prepared. Ah, the luxuries of being prepared.

Once my wife is gone, the first thing I load onto my truck are my most prized possessions. My four best longboard surfboards, period. What can I say? I’m a surfer! OBTW, I did the same thing before Hurricane Iniki squatted on Kaua‘i in 1992 – I took my entire quiver of 8 surfboards and stashed them under my neighbor’s house which was a post and pier construction with a height of three feet off the ground, tying them together two at a time with strips of rubber cut from tire inner tubes, then rubberizing the gate. Of course I knew that if the house blew, my boards would also go, but I had no other place to secure them.

My long guns went into a hardcover traveling case for golf clubs. Those cases are really good, and they’re weather proof. I was intending to have one pistol under the drivers seat, an M1 Garand and Mini-30 with scope behind the driver’s seat, and 12 gauge shotgun besides me, covered by a jacket and towel. No one else would be traveling with me besides my dog. On the floor in the cab were three ammo cans of nickels (2), and metal valuables (1) (gold, junk silver, Rolex watch, and baht chains). On the passenger’s seat was a waterproof container of important papers.

In the bed of my truck: MREs; a container of all the canned foods in the kitchen; cooler of containers of water; bag of rice; 2 pots for cooking; the golf traveling case; containers of ammo (7.62×39, .30-06, .308, and various pistol calibers); a bugout container of tarps, ropes, bungie cords, candles, matches, propane containers and stoves, etc; a bugout bag of clothes, jackets, boots, socks, blanket, slippers, gloves, etc. (Yes, I had an extra set for the son and wife.); my spearfishing/diving bag, including 2 riffe spearguns; a container of dog food with water and food bowls.

In my son’s truck were two bugout containers of tools, more tarps, tents, ropes, MREs, etc. He carried his .30-30 and 20 gauge with ammo. He also packed his Kawasaki dirt bike for alternative transportation, with extra gas and oil.

It took 45 minutes to 1 hour to complete the loading. We backed up the vehicles and positioned them towards the street, ready to go….we checked our neighbors to see what their choices and status was, and it was now 8.00 a.m. Those who were gone, were gone. There were three families that were going to remain – two of us were watching the television reports – we knew if anything hit Hilo on the Big Island, it would take [another] 30 minutes to hit Kaua‘i – so we had the cushion. I changed my plans – rather than an immediate evac (which the low lying coastal communities were doing in full force), I was going to stay to the very last minute because I knew there would be a potential for looting of evacuated communities (which the news began reporting several hours later), and because we had access to real time intel (the televisions and radios), and I did not want to join that evac parade if I didn’t have to. My son was hesitant at first, but then realized the logic. Of course my mom and dad, daughter, and wife, who were all in safe zones, were texting and calling asking where we were. I just stopped answering the cell phone.

About 10.00, I decided to cook a steak and eggs breakfast for my son and I, on the premise we may as well eat a good one because if it gets hectic at around 11.00, we may as well not be hungry too. That was a great meal!

From the projected impact time, to 12.00, we had the television and radio on. And thank the Lord, nothing happened, this time around. The volume of traffic coming from the mountain back to the coastline was bumper to bumper for 1-2 hours. I’m so glad I wasn’t in that parade.

Lessons learned: 1) The ammo cans of nickels are not a survival necessity. 2) There are different evac scenarios that may require different items 3) I’ve got to get my load and evac time down considerably. Under 30 minutes means an earthquake closer to home. This means I’ve got to better centralize those bugout containers in one or two areas of the house and garage. At least my son is aware of these containers.

I’ve just scored two army cots – these will be essential items for the next time. My immediate needs are basically water purification and replacement filters.

Sensei, you rock! – Longboards Rule