Posted by: LZ | December 27, 2008

Lights out in Kailua



Here is a great photo of Barack and Michelle strolling hand-in-hand down Kailua Beach last night.  Too bad you can’t quite make it out since it was PITCH BLACK in Kailua!  Last night, the lights flickered around 6:30PM and then went out for good around 6:45PM. 

Within minutes, the mayor of Honolulu and the governor of Hawaii were headed for the Emergency Operations Center located in a World War I bunker  inside Diamond Head crater.  The emergency broadcasts kicked into place on good ‘ol reliable KSSK radio. They will broadcast non-stop “power outage” news for the rest of the night until power is restored. One hour into it and they are advising us that certain Foodland grocery stores are open and are walking customers individually to buy those suddenly-needed supplies. (what, you don’t have a flashlight in your house?)

Uh, it’s just a power outage.  What’s the big deal? We get a little restless here in Hawaii when the lights go out because it is then that we fully realize we are living on the tip of an extinct volcano thousands of miles from anywhere!  We are alone! There is no neighboring power grid to tap into.  That food rotting in your refrigerator? Guess what?  It’s rotting in the grocery store too! Hey Matson, can your refrigerated container ships speed up a little?

Early into our blackout, the mayor came on the radio to reassure us that Obama was OK.  He had some generators and someone reported seeing lights on at the Obama house (although an aide said the generator was not used and they spent the night like the rest of us in the dark). Around 10PM, the mayor came back on the radio to say that Obama and his family were going to bed.

The last time we had an extended power outage was the earthquake.  They think this outage was caused by lightening strikes. Hawaii produces its own electricity from generators. When a generator goes out here, they have to bring down the other ones also to avoid system-wide damage.  They tried to keep one up to “jump-start” the rest, but that eventually went down too and the rest of the island was plunged into darkness.

How would you like to be on an incoming airplane when that happens?  Not like you can just turn around.  The generators kicked in at the airport and some planes landed while others were diverted to the neighbor islands (that’s what we call every other Hawaiian island except Oahu – – sounds so friendly!). The governor came on the radio to announce the United Airlines outbound mainland flight delays. Sorry folks, you’re stuck here too!

On the radio, every now and then someone would come on and give important information in another language.  We heard it in Japanese! We heard it in Korean!  We heard it in Ilocano!

Yes, it’s a big deal here when the power goes out.  We all get a little island fever …

(Note: Power at my house in Kailua came back on shortly after 6AM this morning.  As of 7AM, power had been restored to about half the island)


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