Waiakea Kai Clock

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In Waiākea town most of the damage occurred in the 1960 tsunami. Buildings and businesses where either completely wiped out or severely damaged and 61 people lost their lives throughout Hilo. Before the tsunami hit, it was a bustling community with all manner of shops and stores, it even had its own movie theater. The Waiākea Kai School was located down on the peninsula in the heart of the town with the main row of shops only a block or two away and many people that grew up in the area have fond memories. It was after the 1960 tsunami though that the community and area changed forever. Homes and buildings were destroyed completely, forcing many residents and business owners to relocate. This was the first home of the popular restaurant, Café 100, and the first home for Anita Mathews. 

She was at home with her siblings on the morning of April 1st, 1946. While they were getting ready for school, she heard commotion outside of their home in Waiākea. When she looked out, she saw chaos. People were running but she didn’t know why, until she saw the water coming in. At the time she didn’t know what a tsunami (or as they called it back then “Tidal Wave”) was. People were running everywhere and part of the buildings down by the Waiākea Bridge were floating on the road. She ran back into the house and her family then left their home with nothing but the clothes on their backs. They were picked up by a truck and taken to safe grounds. “…. from the hill we could see the ocean coming over the Coconut trees and just rolling in you know the backwash.” They stayed up on the hill all day, watching what was happening down by the ocean. Their father was at work when this occurred and luckily found them all on the hill. Both her and her family were safe, but some of her classmates and their family members didn’t survive. They were able to go back to their house a few days later, and the damage was terrible. The stench of diesel from the hauling trucks mixed with the debris was overwhelming. She also experienced the 1960 tsunami, having water and debris surround her house. When she opened her door that night, she could see glistening all around, her house was surrounded by water. She lived near the river and saw barges that were sunk from the 1946 tsunami being pulled up from under the water. Her house survived but her yard on the other hand had all kinds of items in it. She found vaults from nearby stores, along with groceries, dead animals, and linens from the local linen supply house.

Waiākea Town was never rebuilt after the 1960 waves. The Waiākea Kai School was rebuilt on much higher ground. The clock that you see today stands as a memorial for those that lost their lives in the 1960 tsunami, but it is also significant to the people that grew up in the community. The time is stopped at 1:04 am when the clock itself was destroyed by the 3rd and largest wave.