Big quake hit sports fans and vegans the hardest
AT 7:08 a.m. on Oct. 15, I was sitting at the computer when suddenly there was a loud, rumbling noise and the whole house began to violently shake -- first the floor, then the walls, and then the roof. It lasted 15 seconds. My husband, David, came in after retrieving the newspaper from the driveway. When I asked him if we'd had an earthquake, he said, "No, it's just the airplane flying overhead."
My sister, Sylvia, told me her husband was at the beach to catch some waves that morning, and when he started his car to return home and it began to shake, he immediately thought, "Damn, something's wrong with my car!"
Around 7:15 a.m., the lights dimmed and flickered out and so did my computer. It was raining hard. We lit two candles and turned on two lanterns. Our battery-powered radio confirmed my fears: A 6.7-magnitude earthquake had occurred, centered off the west coast of the island of Hawaii, followed by a 6.0-magnitude earthquake.
David switched off the circuit breaker for the water heater and unplugged the computer to prevent a power surge and damage to the equipment. Since our cordless telephone depended on electricity, I had to use my cell phone.
My friend Jim lives in Waimea, about 20 miles from the epicenter of the earthquake. He e-mailed that he and his wife were having breakfast when the first jolt struck. Because quakes on the Big Island are really pretty common, their first reaction was to ride it out. The shocks kept coming and more stuff kept falling to the floor everywhere, so they got scared. They heard a huge crash, which they thought was the house coming apart. They got out without stepping on broken glass or getting hit by anything.
After about five minutes, Jim decided to head back in and check for damage. The huge crash turned out to be the TV set, which had fallen off the shelf to the floor. It seemed like everything they owned was now on the floor. Just then, the second one hit and they split for the yard again. After that one, they decided to set up camp outside until they were sure everything was over.
Luckily, in Foster Village, we had running tap water -- unlike people in high-rises, where water couldn't be pumped upward. But since the stores in our area were closed due to the power outage, we couldn't shop for fresh fruits and vegetables to eat. David used a butane stove to fry eggs for breakfast, and at noon he heated up canned spaghetti with meatballs. He'd won the stove at a party a few years ago, and it sure came in handy.
Sylvia didn't want to open her refrigerator and risk having food spoil, so she and Pete drove around Chinatown to find a place to eat. Although they are both vegans, they ate pork dim sum and manapua that day and washed it all down with Heineken.
With no TV and no computer working, we spent the day listening to talk radio. People from all over the state called in to report which stores and gas stations were open and whether customers could use their credit cards or had to pay in cash. Desperate for "intellectual stimulation," David read my copy of People magazine while I worked on essays for two writing contests.
Power was restored in Foster Village nine hours later, at 4:20 p.m. No food had spoiled, although the ice cubes had partly melted and stuck together in the bin.
We fared better than my friend Dawn, who had no electricity for almost 15 hours until her lights came back on around 10 p.m. She considers the inability to hear the news the worst part. Since she lives on the 10th floor in Waikiki, she didn't want to walk down 10 flights of stairs to buy batteries for her radio and then have to climb back up.
It was a productive writing day for me. But David, being the TV sports addict he is, was bored out of his mind.
Glenda Chung Hinchey is the author of "Love, Life, and Publishing: A Second Memoir."