Teams Assess Hawaii Tsunami Damage

Published On: Mar 11 2011 01:55:01 AM HST   Updated On: Mar 14 2011 03:07:09 AM HST

Hawaii teams spent Friday assessing the damage after a tsunami connected with a powerful 8.9-magnitude earthquake off Japan struck the state.

The Pacific Tsunami Warning Center downgraded the tsunami warning to an advisory at about 7:30 a.m.

Gerard Fryer of the Pacific Tsunami Warning Center said changing to an advisory means the danger had lowered, but "stay away from the water."

The tsunami was not nearly as massive as the wave that crushed about 6 miles of land in Japan. However, the tsunami proved destructive in Hawaii.

The surge pulled two homes into Kealakekua Bay on the Big Island and damaged shops and roads in Kona.

One of the largest surges was reported at Napoopoo on the Big Island, where the tsunami went 100 feet inland, officials said.

At Kahului Harbor on Maui, the surge went in 1/3 of a mile, Fryer said. On Maui, county officials reported flooding on streets and debris on shore areas. They also said some sewer lines were broken by tsunami surges.

On Oahu at La Mariana pier area in Keehi Lagoon, about 150 boats were damaged. The tsunami surge tossed boats tied to the piers.

Off the Diamond Head area of Oahu saw some of the most evident changes. The water was sucked out more than 100 yards from shore followed by waves that pushed back to the shoreline.

Hawaii Tsunami Maps

Early in the evening, state and county emergency crews staffed disaster headquarters. Police and fire teams went around shoreline areas to warn the public about evacuating to higher ground or to higher floors at hotels and high-rises.

Pacific Tsunami Warning Center officials said the wave could pose a major hazard.

?Residents should take this tsunami warning seriously. All state and county agencies and law enforcement are doing what needs to be done to ensure public safety," Gov. Neil Abercrombie said. ?This is a time to be sensible and act with aloha. Please be mindful of your neighbors, especially for the elderly who may need kokua at this time. If you are in a tsunami inundation zone, please make your way to higher ground or go to your nearest shelter.?

Abercrombie said that state workers would not have to report to work unless called on by their supervisors. Only essential city workers would have to go to work on Oahu, Mayor Peter Carlisle said.

"Michelle and I send our deepest condolences to the people of Japan, particularly those who have lost loved ones in the earthquake and tsunamis. The United States stands ready to help the Japanese people in this time of great trial. The friendship and alliance between our two nations is unshakeable, and only strengthens our resolve to stand with the people of Japan as they overcome this tragedy. We will continue to closely monitor tsunamis around Japan and the Pacific going forward and we are asking all our citizens in the affected region to listen to their state and local officials as I have instructed FEMA to be ready to assist Hawaii and the rest of the US states and territories that could be affected," President Barack Obama said.

Civil Defense officials opened shelters in areas around the state. See list.

Many Hawaii schools announced they would close on Friday. See list.

The strong quake and powerful tsunami in Japan has claimed the lives of at least 32 people so far. See the damage.Read the latest.


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