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Oahu residents take refuge as waves arrive

By Rob Perez & Gordon Pang

LAST UPDATED: 1:41 a.m. HST, Oct 28, 2012

Dozens of people sought safe haven at Makakilo Community Park Saturday night as they anxiously awaited news about the tsunami expected to hit the islands in the wake of the earthquake off Canada.

Many came with blankets, portable radios, pets and coolers full of drink to pass the time. The park took on the air of a neighborhood block party -- but with people keenly tuned to their radios, listening for the latest developments.

Kapolei resident Harmony Valoroso, 33, was at the park with 13 other family members, sitting around a tent they erected to wait out the tidal surge.

Before leaving their home, they grabbed important papers and the urn containing the ashes of her late father, Steven Valoroso Sr.

"That's the first thing I grabbed," said Pauline Valoroso, Steven Valoroso's widow.

As former Makaha residents, the Valorosos are no strangers to evacuations and started gathering their belongings immediately after hearing the emergency sirens.

"We don't take this lightly," Harmony Valoroso said. "Mother nature can twist any time."

Norma Soria was at the park with her husband, Rudy Soria, their daughter, Celina Enriques, their granddaughter, Erin Enriques, and their dog, Sebastian. They also came from Kapolei after hearing the emergency sirens. As former residents of Iriquois Point, the Sorias also were evacuation veterans.

"We've done this so many times," Norma Soria said.

The Sorias said they would remain at the park until they got the all-clear word.

In Ewa Beach, scores of residents were caught in the traffic jam on Fort Weaver Road trying to leave the community, about 30 families had gathered in the parking lot of Asing Community Park, a designated evacuation site. As of 11 p.m., however, the community center had not been opened.

Many of the families gathered there didn't seem to mind.

Paula Wilson, 68, was with her daughter, two granddaughters, a nephew, his three young daughters, their dog and a friend.

"I like coming here because you can pitch a tent," Wilson said.

All family members, even the younger ones, helped out pitching the tent.

Heather Hauhio, Wilson's 20-year-old granddaughter, said the family keeps water, food and clothing set aside in their house and ready to go within minutes.

From Ewa to Waianae, groups of cars were parked along shoulders of roads on higher ground.

Traffic along Farrington Highway trying to head into Waiane were diverted by police at Ko Olina Resort.

A large group of vehicles parked along the bridge that goes into the resort waiting out the situation.

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