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Island begins recovery from night in the dark


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POSTED: Sunday, December 28, 2008

Chris Billings was walking to Hard Rock Cafe in Waikiki when darkness covered the neighborhood.

               

     

 

 

TO OUR READERS: BLACKOUT CHANGES TODAY'S LINEUP

        Due to disruptions caused by last night's power outage, today's paper is a one-page section with abbreviated reports from all regular sections.

       

We believed it essential to publish a newspaper today, particularly because electricity is not expected to be restored island-wide until later today. That means, among other things, no Internet access for many looking there for news about the blackout.

       

We will be following this story throughout the day and expect to have a regular newspaper and delivery tomorrow.

       

       

"Everything was out for about two blocks," the 22-year-old Queensland, Australia, resident said. "It's just nuts."

But he was taking it all in stride. "It's just a freak of nature. You can't do anything about it," he said.

While blackness covered the city, visitors and residents in Waikiki kept their spirits upbeat, some brandishing green glow sticks they carried from their hotels.

People lined up outside ABC stores on Ala Moana Boulevard and on Kuhio Avenue and a Whalers General Store on Kuhio. They waited in lines dozens-long for food and water. Employees escorted customers in a few at a time and walked them around with battery-powered lamps.

Barry and Sandi Hartstein stood in line before an ABC store on Ala Moana Boulevard near the Hilton for about 30 minutes. They were driving into town from Ko Olina when the power went out.

"It's scary when you think about it. One lightning and the entire island is dark," Barry Hartstein said. His wife was still enjoying their vacation.

"We're used to bad weather; we're from Chicago," she said.

It was a full house at Keo's Thai Cuisine in Waikiki as cooks prepared food on gas grills and diners ate under ambient lighting from the building's back-up generators or fire torches. Cashiers collected cash and swiped credit cards manually.

The Prabhala family was moving through the darkness, looking for a place to eat, before finding Keo's on Kuhio Avenue. Sitting on the restaurant lanai, the family of four ate their meals under the light of tiki torches.

"It adds to the mood," said Adi Prabhala, 22, of Sydney, Australia. "It's quite nice walking down the street with all the lights out."

By about 8 p.m., Paul Sananikone, Keo's manager, said the restaurant had served about 200 people since opening at 5 p.m. He said customers were still walking in because there weren't many other places open.

In the October 2006 islandwide blackout following the Big Island earthquake, the restaurant was also one of the few places open in Waikiki, he said.

"The customer's are really nice. They're waiting," he said. "Everybody sat down, everybody's happy.

"I just don't understand why they don't do something about this whole thing," he added.

In Kaimuki, Rich Klein, 22, said he was concerned that driving to the airport to pick up his girlfriend would be tough, but found residents pitching in. "People are directing traffic on their own right on Waialae Avenue by Koko Head on-ramp. I was expecting a much longer commute," he said.

Tim Kocher, 41, of Kamloops, British Columbia, said he didn't mind at all that he had to wait two hours for a delayed flight, as he stretched out on the floor near his wife, Terri, 41, who sat with daughter, Jessica, 10, as son, Ryan, 16, slept.

"We were on the beach (in Waikiki) watching the storm," Terri said.

Tim said he had videotaped the lightening, but deleted it. "I thought I'd get a better picture of the lightening strike," he said, regretting his decision.

Visitor Terri Kocher from British Columbia, Canada, said that on Waikiki Beach, "when the power went out, everybody started hoot-and-hollering. Sounded like a bunch of rednecks."

Witnessing the well-lit Waikiki instantly darken "was kind of bizarre to see," she said.