Earthquake!

We were woken up this morning by the earthquatke centered just off the Big Island’s NW Kohala coast. The house shook gently for maybe 10 seconds, the wall hangings banged, one cupboard swung open, but nothing fell or broke. As I was waking up, I thought it was maybe a strong wind buffeting the house but then I realized there was no wind sound. There were actually two earthquakes, we felt the first at 7:11am the second weaker at 7:23am. Those times are approximate, but they are definitely delayed from the “official” times (which I don’t have offhand). We are located 260 miles (415 km) from the epicenter.



Source: http://earthquake.usgs.gov/eqcenter/recenteqsus/Maps/special/Hawaii.php

After the first one, we got up, figured there was no danger and went back to bed—since we sleep in on Sundays. I wasn’t quite asleep when I felt what I thought was a tiny aftershock: just a jitter and the neighbor dogs barked once. I told my wife there was an aftershock, and a few seconds later the house shook a little bit for about 5 seconds, much less than the first time. We didn’t feel any of the true aftershocks, and none of them rattled the wall hangings.

Unless there was some strange localized effects, I doubt there was any damage on Kauai. The electricity never went out, so it was a normal day for us. Maybe some rocks fell somewhere, loosened by the recent rains, but we’ll have to wait for tomorrow’s newspaper to find out. All the local TV stations from Oahu were not broadcasting at first due to a complete power outage on all the other islands. CNN and Fox news had around the clock coverage at first, but not much to say until reporters from KITV (channel 4) on Oahu were back on the air.

So far, there are reports of rock slides on the Big Island, some bridges out on Maui isolating the town of Hana, and a 100 year-old chimney falling on Oahu, but no deaths. Lots of food spoiled and dishes were broken on the Big Island, bug significant damage was limited to a hospital building, some big roofs on stores, and a few blocked or cracked roads. There were a lot of dry rock walls (no mortar, just stacked rocks) and retaining walls that collapsed, damaging some houses and cars. KITV has more of the story and lots of photos on their website.

We’re not really worried about earthquakes here on Kauai, we know they happen at least every decade on the Big Island because of the volcanism, but like today’s they are not felt stronly here. I think they have tiny quakes on Kauai probably due to the island settling, but I think we have nothing to worry about. Of course, a tsunami is always a threat, but we bought our house uphill about 150? (50 m) and a mile (1.6 km) from the ocean, on purpose.

Just as an aside, I wonder how long it will take FEMA to update their website:



Source: fema.gov, 14 hours after today’s earthquake

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