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The Honolulu Advertiser
Posted on: Sunday, February 28, 2010

For many on Oahu, flight to high ground ends at Pali Lookout

BY Mike Gordon
Advertiser Staff Writer

Hawaii news photo - The Honolulu Advertiser

Folks check out the view. “I don’t think it’s the end of the world yet,” said Rose Banez, who drove in from Waiähole.

Photos by MIKE GORDON | The Honolulu Advertiser

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Hawaii news photo - The Honolulu Advertiser

Hundreds on Oçahu sought safety yesterday at the Pali Lookout. People began arriving before sunrise, and by midmorning the access road was jammed with vehicles.

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NU'UANU — The fear of a deadly tsunami sent them running for high ground, but once they got there, they held a party on the Pali.

Hundreds of people converged on the Pali Lookout yesterday morning as warnings of an approaching tsunami spread. Many arrived before sunrise and by mid-morning, the access road to the lookout was so jammed with parked vehicles that police were called for parking control.

People huddled on blankets, barbecued hot dogs and posed for photographs at the lookout, which is perched on the top of a thousand-foot cliff.

They brought coolers, pets and cots. Some strummed 'ukulele, others played cards.

"This is the only place I feel safe," said Zeia Isberner, the 27-year-old wife of a deployed Marine who left her home on Marine Corps Base Hawaii. "They have a hill on base that is out of the tidal zone but it wasn't high enough for me."

Even as they smiled away the warning, many still worried about the destruction a tsunami could bring.

Madeline Giscomb and her husband drove in from Ka'a'awa after being awakened by a neighbor screaming his own civil defense warning outside their bedroom window.

"We live half a block from the water and we don't have renters insurance and all our stuff is there," she said. "We're hoping all our stuff is still there when we get back."

Natalie Fries, 27, an emergency room nurse visiting with her husband from Wichita, Kan., was practically in a panic after family members called. She was fully prepared to buy the last two plane tickets American Airlines was selling — first-class seats going for $2,500 each — but someone else bought them first.

So Fries and her husband wound up at the lookout, marveling at a panoramic view that stretched from Kualoa to Lanikai.

"I'm not so educated about tsunamis and being woken up at 4 a.m. and told there is a tsunami — all I could imagine were huge waves coming in and then you're gone," she said. "I hope I see nothing and it all is blown out of proportion. I especially hope I don't see big waves out there where I see people driving."

The crowd at the Pali surprised Rose Banez, who drove in from Waiāhole, along with her mother and daughter. Her home is across the highway from the ocean and she figures it will be there when she returns.

"I don't think it's going to be that bad," she said. "It's too nice a day and I don't think it's the end of the world yet."