Hawaii CUs Open For Business As Tsunami Warning Cancelled

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HONOLULU — Several branches of credit unions that remained closed this morning as large waves were reported heading for the Hawaiian Islands have reopened.

The Pacific Tsunami Warning Center cancelled its Tsunami Advisory for Hawaii at 11:26 a.m. local time. A statement said tsunami wave heights across the state of Hawaii "are now below advisory levels and are continuing to diminish based on all available data." The Center said smaller sea level changes and strong or unusual currents may persist for several additional hours and warned boaters and swimmers to take "appropriate caution."

The tsunami warning was triggered by a large earthquake, reportedly magnitude 8.9, which struck off the east coast of Japan. It is the largest in the history of recorded earthquakes to strike the island nation.

Dennis Tanimoto, president and CEO of the Hawaii Credit Union League, told Credit Union Journal tsunami waves began coming onshore about 3 a.m. Hawaii Time on Friday. "I understand the biggest wave was 12 feet high," he said. "Initial news reports said the most damage was on the island of Maui, in the area known as Kahului. There was water infiltration in some buildings, as well as damage to boats and docks."

Because the earthquake in Japan happened late at night, around 8 p.m. Thursday Hawaii time, all credit unions were closed so there was no way for the Hawaii CU League to issue any sort of warning, Tanimoto said. However, all local counties issued tsunami watches, and then later warnings, as the waves drew near.

"We are waiting for credit unions to contact us, but we are lucky that none of them seem to be seriously affected," Tanimoto reported. "The majority of credit unions are open today. I think we dodged a bullet on this one. We were watching the live videos of what was happening in Japan and braced ourselves for the worst."

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