The Earthquake on October 15, 2006

"One of the things that became painfully obvious in the first few hours after the quake was that the mainland media was just looking for a story. Oh, and did you know that according to Fox News Kealakekua Bay is on Oahu?  I never knew that."

The numbers and location of the epicenters A lot of shaking and the cliffs crumbled
Hawi Church Hawi Church Kealakehe Elementary School Kawaihea Harbor Paniolo Club Waikoloa
Paniolo Club Waikaloa Kohala By The Sea KTA Store Akone Pule Hwy Old Coffee Shack
The worst damage was to age old building, as seen by the damage to the historic Hulihee Palace on Alii Drive in downtown Kailua in the pictures below from West Hawaii Today newspaper

Harry Pritikin made an excellent summary of the earthquake: Here's what happened.  At 7AM I was barely awake lying in bed and everything just started shaking.  There was no build up.  It just hit.  Also, I didn't hear any dogs howling like you usually do just seconds before an earthquake.  So it surprised even the dogs.  I clutched the mattress to keep from being thrown out of bed.  My house is a pole house, and very solidly built, but the shaking was so violent. Not a rocking or a rolling where things sway up and back like in your usual earthquake.  This was a shaking, like two big hands had the house and were shaking it so hard and very fast.  There was loud rumbling the whole time.  I didn't have time to think anything during, but afterwards I was amazed that the house could be shaken so violently and not come apart. 

My first thought was that there was going to be a tsunami.  If the quake was in the ocean I expected a tsunami within minutes.  I stood at my upstairs window watching.  I heard later that people down on Alii Drive were doing the same thing.  They realize it was useless to run and were just watching and waiting.  I am at 1,100 feet elevation and I wondered if the wave could come up this high.  When nothing happened I surmised that the quake had been on land.  I turned on the upstairs TV.  Nothing but football.  My house is 100% solar so I didn't know the power was out in town.  Also, I have the Dish Network, which is satellite, so I had TV (I heard later that the cable was out).  But all the local stations were off the air.  So I ran out to my car to listen to the radio and much to my frustration all the stations, AM and FM, were also off the air. This kind of scared me.  I kept scrolling around looking for the civil defense station but there was none.  This really frustrated me.  Then, as I am standing out in my parking area, the first aftershock hit.  I am told it was in the high 4's low 5's.  My wife was in the house and she screamed.  The solar stuff on the roof was clanging. 

I ran back into the house and turned on the downstairs TV and went to CNN, nothing.  Then CNBC, nothing.  Then Fox.  Ah ha, the first inkling that the mainland has, and the first news that I have, on this earthquake and they say it was centered off Maui!!  I thought, oh my god, if it was this strong over here Maui must be devastated.  I switched back to CNBC and they said it was centered offshore of the Big Island.  Now I'm getting frustrated.  There is no local news, no radio or TV, and these idiots at CNN keep showing some girl on Waikiki Beach slathering herself with suntan lotion. 

So I started walking around surveying the damage.  Everything on shelves was knocked off.  I had a few of my bottles from my old bottle collection that fell on the tile kitchen floor and broke.  There were a few ceramic nick knacks that had hit the tile and broke also.  All the pictures on the walls were tilted in the same direction as if put that way on purpose; kind of artsy looking.  Spots in my rock walls outside had collapsed.  Over the next three hours I cleaned up inside the house while my wife fielded phone calls from all the friends and relatives calling us from the mainland.  We have T-Mobile cells and they were working.  The regular phones came up fairly quickly also.  But the news is all about how the power is out on Oahu.  They made it seem like that was caused by the earthquake, but they were having torrential rains and I think that's what did it.  It was so frustrating because there was no news about the Big Island.  

When I drove to town around 4 the Safeway was open and it was as if nothing had happened.  They must have had the shelves emptied by the quake but everything was picked up and cleaned up by the time I got there.  But Wall-Mart was closed.  I heard that their acoustic ceiling tiles had come down.  Of course on Fox they said the "roof collapsed".  What was amazing was how the roads were strewn with rocks.  The county had been out and pushed them all off to the shoulders and coned some of the piles; but so many and so many places.  We didn't really get any good news footage of the Big Island until Monday.  There was good footage on the local news showing people cleaning up rocks mostly.  Everybody was in good spirits, laughing and joking about what had happened.  One guy who's rock wall collapsed completely into his driveway was bragging about how he had grabbed his plasma screen as it was falling off the wall and saved it.  He didn't mention what his wife was doing at the time! Priorities:-) 

There was a rock church up in Hawi that had it's walls collapse.  One house caught fire and basically was gutted because their propane line broke between the tank and the house.  The Mauna Kea Beach Hotel, which is very close to the epicenter up in Puhakaloa, had some of the huge concrete balconies break off and fall to the ground.  Also, lava rock facades on the three story concrete walls came down.  My broker's house in Kona Paradise shifted about 6 inches on it's foundation.  Most of you mainlanders aren't familiar with post and pier construction, but it's an easy repair job.  His house will just be in a slightly different location now!  My house is a pole house.  It's held up by 9 huge ohia logs.  The base of each log is bolted to 5/8" thick steel U frames that go up the log 12 inches.  The base of the U frame goes into concrete footing 18 inches.  Each footing is a 3'X3'X3 cube buried in the ground.  Most mainlanders can't picture what the ground is like in Kona.  We live on the slopes of a volcano.  Unless you live on an extinct cinder cone, the "soil" is mostly rock and only a foot or so think.  Under that is mostly rock.  The deeper you go the more solid the rock becomes.  There are several kinds of lava flows, AA is loose jagged pieces that move very slowly during an eruption.  Pahoehoe is fast moving lava that dries hard and solid.  Cinders are formed from lava shooting up to 1,500 feet into the air and the trapped gasses explode out creating cinders.  Cinders occur as localized cones.  Old cinder cones turn to deep soil on the surface.  My house seems to be on an old pahoehoe flow with about a foot of crumbled rock mixed with dirt on the surface.  So the footings of my house were poured into holes rammed out in the rock by a hoe ram.  So basically, this house was going nowhere:-)

One of the things that because painfully obvious in the first few hours after the quake was that the mainland media was just looking for a story.  You could actually tell the disappointment in their voices when callers would say it wasn't so bad.  Plus, they didn't know the difference between Oahu and the Big Island.  It brought home to me how little people on the mainland really know about Hawaii.  That's why I am writing this.  We don't have dirt like on the mainland.  It makes the effect of an earthquake very different.  You don't have liquefaction of land which causes most of the serious damage in California.  The news media kept talking about the danger of mudslides.  How can you have mudslides if you don't have mud!!??  They were milking this thing for all it was worth.  Since the local stations came back on line I haven't watched any more mainland news so I don't know how badly of a distorted picture you are getting.  But judging from the calls and emails from friends and family, it's pretty distorted.

This morning there were two after shocks.  One at about 5:25 am and the other around 7:00 am.  Just small thumps but you could hear them.  Just a little reminder.  The main quake, btw, was very noisy.  My neighbor was out hanging up clothes on her clothesline Sunday morning and she said she could see the ground undulating.  I would have liked to have seen that. Oh well, maybe next time:-)

Here's da scoops. The earthquake was created when a 36-square-mile plate near the west coast of the Big Island slipped about one yard at a depth of about 20 miles below the ocean floor.  The news media are blowing this all out of proportion using terms like "shaken residents" and "no one killed".  Anything to grab a headline.  The local news, however, is doing a great job of reporting the facts.  Everybody has a story of where they were when it hit and what happened to their "stuffs" inside their houses; what broke, what didn't, etc.  As far as I can tell only a few structures were seriously damaged; like I said before, the Mauna Kea Beach and that church in Hawi.  I have one friend who slept right through it.  Most widespread damage is collapsed rock walls and rocks that had fallen on the roadways. 

Oh, and did you know that according to Fox News Kealakekua Bay is on Oahu?  I never knew that. 

West Hawaii Today had this information on October 24th:

FEMA, which finalized its Hawaii County report Saturday night, October 21st, said 10 homes were destroyed, 173 homes suffered major damage, and another 1,475 homes suffered minor damage.

By Monday October 23rd, damages totaled $98.5 million for both private and public properties. Among the public infrastructure damage is Kawaihae Harbor; North Hawaii Community Hospital and the Kohala, Kona, Ka'u, and Honokaa hospitals; 22 county buildings and 23 state buildings, including seven schools.