Saturday, February 27, 2010

Tsunami Alert

The Tsunami Alert we just went through was quite an experience. I first read about the earthquake in Chile last night and it occurred to me that a Tsunami was possible. I heard the phone ring early this morning and one of my housemates answered it and I went on sleeping. About 6:30 a.m. she knocked on my door and said there was an alert and we were to attend a meeting at 8 a.m. Everyone on the island was to attend. Matt Brown, Refuge Manager, began the meeting by saying he had been in contact with the Coast Guard and they said everyone should stay on the island. There would be no evacuation. He then detailed what was known and assigned jobs for everyone. The volunteers answer to the Assistant Manager and he gave us more specific directions in a small group. We were to take apart all the computers that we use and place them on top of the cabinets. We were to also pack up all our hard copy biological data and have it ready to carry with us to high ground. At 11a.m. the entire population met again and Matt told us at that point that the danger had eased but until the Tsunami Warning Center specifically told us to stand down we would keep moving on our plan. All of the large vehicles were moved to the highest road on the island and we were to assemble on the third floor of Charlie Barracks at 12:45. We packed our personal gear and put some of it on the 2nd floor of Midway House and everyone ate lunch. At 12:45 we all made our way to the third floor of Charlie with one bag of personal gear. We spent about 30 minutes with 76 of us on the third floor and at that point Matt said the alert had been lifted and we could leave. He suggested we keep our bags packed until tomorrow and stay off the beaches. All of these meetings were translated into Thai as we went along. I think everyone was a little nervous but everything proceeded very calmly. I had a lot of confidence that I was safe but was not looking forward to spending the afternoon cooped up with 75 other people or the grim possibility of all the carnage in the bird colonies. The attached pictures are views of the meetings and the hallway at Charlie Barracks.


  1. I am glad to have found your blog. My husband had visited Midway Atoll in 2007 for the 65th Anniversary of the Battle of Midway. It is an experience we will never forget. Upon hearing about the earthquake and the tsunami alert we were fearful for Midway. It puts our minds at ease hearing from first hand experience. Thank you for your work there.

  2. Gary,
    Thanks for a first person account of the experience. We're so glad it turned out the way it did. Your comment about the effect on the birds is very sobering.
    Mona & Nelson Klavitter

  3. Hi Gary,
    Enjoyed reading your account and seeing the pictures. I am the new PA coming in April. Looking forward to meeting everyone and being on the island for the next 6 months.

  4. Thanks for posting this. I am just interested in the atolls and marine reserves and thought if Hawaii was worried how bad will it be before it reaches Oahu? Johnston Atoll for example. J.B. McKinley, Vermont