The old stone church is called “Ihi’ihio Iehowa o na Kaua” church in Hawaiian. It was built in 1856 and is the sole surviving building of the April 1st, 1946 killer tsunami which wiped out the entire village at Keanae Peninsula. The 8.6 monster earthquake that caused this devastating tsunami originated in the Aleutian Islands chain off the coast of Alaska.
The waves hit Maui hard, topping 35 feet (or 12 meters) as they came ashore. However, near the tsunami’s epicenter, the waves topped 35 meters or over 100 feet. There was no tsunami warning system in the Pacific at the time, so Hawaiʻi was caught completely off-guard. Absolutely no one saw it coming. Sadly, there were 20 children and 4 teachers stolen by the wave, a huge loss for such a small village like Ke’anae.
The most positive outcome from this tragedy was the development and implementation of the Pacific Tsunami Warning Center which was, and still is, headquartered on Ewa Beach on Oʻahu, Hawaiʻi. The system is still in place today, keeping the residents of Hawaiʻi safe.