Reed’s Bay

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Reed’s Bay was once a part of Waiākea town, where many people had their homes and businesses before the devastation of the 1960 tsunami.

Looking out of Reed’s Bay following the breakwater in the distance towards the shore you will find Hilo’s Port. The port has had many encounters with tsunamis over the years and taken considerable damage in the past. Like many places along the coast, the Port of Hilo has its stories to tell.

Floyd Hoopii was a stevedore and freight clerk at the port in 1946. He had just arrived to work before the tsunami hit. He was checking the crew when he looked out and noticed the water was much lower, almost empty, and a horrible stench was coming from the gray brown mud covering the ocean floor. Boats were still docked, and orders were given to release them, so he and a co-worker set to work. Then he heard the first wave hit the breakwater and make awful sounds as boulders came off it. “And you could hear the rumbling of the big boulders in the breakwater falling down, ‘prack, parack, parack’, just like bowling.” They were able to get one boat free and just working on the second when water started to hit their ankles. He could see one of the boats almost eye level with them now. Then the water receded again, and the second wave came in. All the while they ran, hearing the deafening sound of the waves crashing into the breakwater and watching events unfold around them. Colleagues were washed away, and one was pulled under a boat reappearing on the other side and eventually saved by the crew on the ship. One of the pier buildings was destroyed, “when that wave hit, that whole pier exploded.” Ships of all kinds were desperately trying to make deeper waters without colliding with one another. One of the barges that was full of new cars and appliances was pushed up and landed at an angle, dumping its cargo into the ocean. The waves kept coming but Floyd and his colleague were eventually rescued.