Cleanup efforts underway after tsunami wave triggered by Tonga eruption

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HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) – While a tsunami advisory has been canceled for Hawaii, residents across the islands are now cleaning up the mess left by waves triggered by a large eruption in Tonga.

Some of the most visible effects have been seen on the island of Hawaii, where a scheduled regatta for Kailua-Kona high school canoe clubs had to be canceled. Other clubs have also been affected.

“The pier was pretty much underwater, canoes were floating and lounge chairs and cushions were in the bay,” said Doug Vera Cruz, president of the Kai Opua Canoe Club. “Some of our equipment was floating in the water and was found in the cul-de-sac.”

At around 3am on Saturday, Vera Cruz ventured to shore to assess the damage – where he said the water had risen 3-4ft.

“In our canoe area we have a rock face. We have a water pipe that was about 2 feet above the rock face and we are about 3 feet above sea level,” he said.

Vera Cruz said the damage was mostly minor and he was grateful no one was injured.

“It was strewn everywhere, piled on top of each other, wrapped around the coconut trees, piled on the rock faces,” Vera Cruz said. “There was another canoe club, Kona Athletic, they had canoes there and they had some pretty significant structural damage.”

On Lanai, the thrust was strong enough to knock several boats out of the water. Most eventually returned to their dockside positions at Manele Harbour, but not Jay Margulies’ boat.

A boat is stuck on a pier in Manele Harbor on Lanai.(KEVIN’S STORY)

“It wasn’t until I woke up around seven o’clock and checked my phone. I saw a text message from the harbor master with pictures showing my boat at the dock, then I rushed here,” Margulies said.

The boat, a Boston whaler, is built sturdily and should be fine, but getting it back in the water will be a challenge.

“From what we can tell there is absolutely no damage to the boat at this stage, and we hope that on Tuesday we can get one of the big cranes down here on the island for construction and we help lift it up and put it on our trailer,” Margulies said.

Signs of the surge were still visible late Saturday morning and as the effects of this powerful phenomenon wane, many are wondering why it took Hawaii so long to submit to a tsunami advisory.

“The tsunami caused by the volcano is not the normal type of tsunami that we analyze at the Pacific Tsunami Warning Center,” said Chip McCreery, director of the Pacific Tsunami Warning Center.

He said the tsunami they normally analyze comes from large earthquakes – and they have a wealth of tools to do so – but in this case a tsunami was triggered by an underwater volcanic eruption.

“We had no idea because we had no information to compel the source,” McCreery said. “We didn’t know how big the explosion was, what kind of mass of material ended up in the sea.”

Meanwhile, unusual currents are still being reported across the state, with forecasters urging the public to be careful if heading out to sea.

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