Tom Duddy says that branch members are safe after a tsunami began hitting the Hawaiian islands around 3:00 a.m. local time on Friday morning. An 8.9 magnitude earthquake near the Japanese coast triggered the waves, with hundreds of deaths already reported in northern Japan.
In Oahu, the damage appears to be minimal and confined to harbor areas, with no reported deaths or injuries as of early Friday morning. Bob and Bev Linczer (Oahu) evacuated their home near Oahu's south shore, but found no damage when they returned to the house on Friday morning. Many businesses and schools across the islands are closed on Friday, including the Waikiki-area store where Bob Badham (Oahu) has been working.
"The storm is affecting everyone," Bob says. "Nearly everything is shut down including bus service and all unessential services at the Honolulu airport." Honolulu's mayor issued an all-clear signal shortly after daybreak on Friday morning.
Tom says the branch women's retreat, scheduled to begin on Friday evening, will go on as planned. Nano Farabaugh (South Bend) is giving this year's retreat, to be held on high ground at St. Anthony Retreat Center. During last year's retreat, tsunami sirens sounded early on Saturday morning, and some nearby residents came to the retreat center seeking cover. That storm was less damaging. "But it was a distraction to the retreat," Mary Duddy says.
"Last night at dinner we were telling Nano and Chris Vieck (South Bend) stories about the retreat last year," adds Tom. "We didn't know then that this tsunami was going to happen.
“We appreciate your prayers for the retreat and we’re praying for the people in Japan,” he says.