During Tsunami, Hawaii Homeless Left Behind

Katherine Poythress/Civil Beat

Minutes before the tsunami was expected to hit the Hawaiian Islands, one of the main roads leading into Ala Moana Beach Park was wide open. There were no flares, no roadblocks and no police officers restricting access to Atkinson Drive.

A few blocks away, on Piikoi Street, a half-dozen homeless people waited on the sidewalk to meet their fate, some of them physically unable to walk themselves to higher ground. Security guards would not allow them onto the second story of the Ala Moana Center parking deck.

A 55-year-old homeless man who said he suffered from cardiac problems and a spinal injury, told us he had, by then, accepted that he was on his own. A cab or bus ride would cost him money he did not have, he said.

Fortunately, the waves that struck Oahu did not flood the streets or cause loss of life. But the police, who were in charge of closing off designated inundation zones, could not give a good reason for why streets leading to inundation zones were left open. And the city didn't have a good explanation for why some homeless were left behind.

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