Wailoa Center

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When the tsunami hit on April 1st, 1946 no one could believe the damage that would occur in this small community. Entire buildings and homes were destroyed, and many lives were lost but every survivor has their story. Yoshinobu Terada grew up in Shinmachi, where his father was a handyman in the surrounding area. He experienced the 1946 tsunami as a young boy. That morning he had been asked to check on the family boat and was heading home when the waves started to hit. He was only three houses away from his own when he saw the water coming in. Knowing he wouldn’t make it back to his house in time he jumped onto a neighbor’s right before it was swept away. Buildings all around were banging into each other. When the second wave hit it took the house into the riverbank and split it in two and began to sink. He was carried through the ponds, passing people screaming for help. He tried to reach a young boy, but the debris just wouldn’t let him. He eventually made it to land and the first person he saw was his mother. They turned toward the ocean and saw another wave coming in, about as tall as the Iron Works building. They left and ran to higher ground after that to find the rest of the family. After some waiting and searching, they found almost everyone in his family, but one was still missing. They feared he was lost, but after a week they were finally reunited. Most of his family was relatively unscathed, but others he knew weren’t so lucky.

The Wailoa Center was completed in 1967 in the Wailoa State Park. The beautiful green fields and rolling bridges are quite a contrast to what it once looked like. The community of Shinmachi was once home to many families and businesses until it was devastated by the 1946 and 1960 tsunamis. It was after 1960 that it became the parks and recreational area seen today. The Wailoa Center is a two-story building that showcases many pieces from local artists along with having monthly special exhibits.