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After the Tsunami: The Big Island’s Kona-Kohala Coast Is Open for Business

  |  Big Island Communities: Events, Big Island Communities: News
Ali'i Drive on Friday afternoon

Crews clearing Ali'i Drive early Friday

As the weekend after the March 11 tsunami unfolded, Big Islanders could often be found comparing notes about where and how we heard about the earthquake in Japan and about how we stayed informed as the tsunami arrived in Hawaii in the early morning hours on Friday.

Throughout the next day, as we waited for the final “All Clear” from Civil Defense, we realized that West Hawaii had suffered the brunt of the tsunami’s impact here in the islands. Many of us stayed tuned to news broadcasts and were sharing information online through Facebook and Twitter, both in an effort to know what was really happening on the ground here on the Big Island and as a way to connect with friends and family near and far away as we began to understand the extent of the losses suffered by the people of Japan. As a community, we continue to mourn for those affected by the incredible devastation.

Closer to home, we were able to witness neighbor helping neighbor in Kealakekua Bay. We also heard stories of upcountry Waimea residents opening their homes to friends staying at Waikoloa resorts who had to evacuate oceanfront hotel properties during the night on Friday and of Hilo and Kona residents inviting friends at sea level up to their higher-elevation homes. Several times this weekend I’ve heard someone say, “It was like a sleepover. Once the danger for Hawaii had passed, we had an unexpected opportunity to relax together and enjoy each other’s company.” Through these events, we’ve again been reminded to appreciate our Big Island community. A small silver lining, perhaps.

Ali'i Drive on Friday afternoon

A sandy Ali'i Drive on Friday afternoon

Bouncing Back

As a new week begins for Hawaii’s hotels and small business owners, one message we want to be sure gets out to those who are not here on-island with us is this:

The Kona Coast is definitely open for business!

Although parts of Ali’i Drive in Kailua-Kona may be closed on occasion for repairs, most businesses are open and welcoming clients and customers as usual. As far as hotel closures, news reports say that only the Four Seasons Hualalai and the Kona Village Resort have closed temporarily for clean-up. (The King Kamehameha Hotel sustained damage in public areas only, so guests are still able to stay in their rooms.)

Upcoming Kona Events

The Kailua Village Stroll, a monthly community event on Ali’i Drive in Kona, is scheduled for this upcoming Sunday. A media release from Kailua Village Business Improvement District says this:

“Kokua Kailua Village Stroll is scheduled 1-6 p.m. Sunday, March 20. It will go on as planned. We may need to adjust near the north end (Kailua Pier) where the sidewalk is damaged and we will continue to monitor that throughout the week. Please plan to participate and show your support for Village merchants and restaurants.”

Although Hulihe’e Palace on Ali’i Drive is closed until further notice, the annual Day at Hulihe’e Palace fundraiser, set for March 26, will go on as scheduled. The event begins at 8:30 a.m. with a traditional Hawaiian blessing and lasts until 4 p.m. Visit the Daughters of Hawai’i Facebook page for the most current updates.

Read More about Kailua-Kona’s Post-Tsunami Resilience

For more about how business in Kailua-Kona are cleaning up and moving forward, please take a look at this Hawaii 24/7 post that contains several on-the-scene photos (the photo of the Herb Kane display is a notable one):

Hawaii 24/7 – Tsunami 2011: Business as usual for some in Kona

Photos courtesy of Janet Wells Brown, R(S) of Clark Realty’s Kailua-Kona office

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