Maui News

Video: Powerful Tsunami Rips out Fence at Kanaha, Gov Issues Disaster Proclamation

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By Wendy Osher

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Debris pushed by the power of tsunami surges became wedged in park gates and pushed over the perimeter fence at the Kanaha Wildlife Sanctuary. Photo by Wendy Osher.

The power of the tsunami surges on Maui yesterday were enough to rip the fence and posts from the perimeter of the Kanaha Wildlife Sanctuary in Kahului.  An assessment of the area today showed widespread debris across the Kanaha coastline, which remained closed to the public.  The force of the waves ripped trees and vegetation from the ground, flooded low-lying areas, and burried stretches of fence beneath piles of dirt, rocks and branches. 

Four parks remained closed until further notice, including Baldwin Park in Paia, Kanaha Park in Kahului, and Kalepolepo and Kalama parks in Kihei.


The damage across the state was enough to prompt a Disaster Proclamation from Governor Neil Abercrombie who announced the plan during press conference last night. 

The proclamation is the first step in the process of seeking and receiving federal funds to recover and rebuild from the projected millions of dollars in damages.

“The Obama Administration is aware that this Pacific-wide tsunami has had an impact on our state,” said Gov. Abercrombie. “Damages to government facilities, private businesses and residential property are estimated in the millions,” he said.


The tsunami was the result of an 8.9 magnitude earthquake off Japan at 7:46 p.m. HST on March 10, 2011. Prior to the Disaster Proclamation, Gov. Abercrombie, Lt. Governor Brian Schatz, and Hawai’i Tourism Authority President Mike McCartney visited with the Consulate General of Japan, extending Hawaii’s support to the people of Japan.

“Our hearts go out to the people of Japan who have suffered and continue to suffer immeasurable loss as a result of this major earthquake, tsunami, and aftershocks. As one island people to another, we stand with them in solidarity and in sympathy for the challenges they face,” said Gov. Abercrombie.

HTA President Mike McCartney added, “The visitor industry is working to ensure that we take care of the Japanese visitors who are in Hawai’i now. Our friendship with Japan goes back generations,” he said.


By early Friday afternoon all airports were fully functioning, but access to harbors on Maui was still limited. 

“We want to make clear to all that the State of Hawai’i is open for business. We welcome all visitors and are ready to serve them,” noted McCartney.

The Governor praised the collaborative teamwork of all federal, state, and county agencies led by State Adjutant General, Maj. Gen. Darryll D.M. Wong and Vice Director of State Civil Defense Ed Teixeira.

Governor Abercrombie said, “Last night made it clear that we have a top-notch coordinated and collaborative response to ensure the health and safety of the public no matter what comes our way. I want to thank everyone who worked throughout the evening and into the morning, proving once again that there is no challenge too big when we work together with aloha,” said Gov. Abercrombie.


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