- The Washington Times - Tuesday, October 17, 2006

KAILUA-KONA, Hawaii (AP) — A favorite pidgin expression in Hawaii — “Lucky you live Hawaii” — gained new meaning yesterday as authorities quickly restored electricity and started to clear away boulders after the strongest earthquake to hit the islands in more than two decades.

Twenty-four hours after Sunday’s 6.7-magnitude quake, no deaths or serious injuries were reported, and there were few signs of any major damage.

“It lets you know Mother Nature is doing her thing,” said Robin Eising, a teacher at Waikoloa Elementary School, which was closed for the day for inspection. “It was a wake-up call.”

Still, officials cautioned that they were still inspecting the many bridges, roads, earthen dams, schools and other structures across the Big Island, the isle closest to the epicenter. No estimates of the overall damage were available.

Utilities restored power to 97 percent of the state’s customers by early morning. That figure was expected to reach 99 percent by the end of the day. Nearly all of Oahu, the most populous island with more than 800,000 of Hawaii’s 1.2 million residents, had been blacked out on Sunday.

The quake hit at 7:07 a.m., 10 miles north-northwest of Kailua-Kona, on the west coast of Hawaii Island, known as the Big Island. The U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) yesterday raised its measurement of the magnitude from a preliminary 6.6 to 6.7.

At least one stretch of road leading to a bridge near the epicenter collapsed, Civil Defense Agency spokesman Dave Curtis said. Several other roads on the Big Island were closed by mudslides, debris and boulders, but most were still passable, he said.

Many Hawaii residents breathed a sigh of relief. On the Big Island, people were returning to work and their lives, as bicyclists training for Saturday’s Ironman World Championship zipped along the highway.

“If you’re going to have an earthquake, you couldn’t have had it at a better time — early in the morning when people aren’t even out of their homes yet,” Mr. Curtis said. “I think people, under the circumstances, have remained very calm.”

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