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Tsunamis in Maui County: Oral Histories

Matthew Kalalau, Sr.

“Then I looked, yeah, there she (niece) was, hanging on to the tree like this. I have to swim to her. Jump in the sea, swim across to higher ground and then run down to where she was. Now when I reached her, I could see the sea coming in, you know. Then I yelled at her, told her to let go and I’d catch her. She wouldn’t let ’em go, it was like my brother. They would’ve just hang on to the tree. So what I had to do was jump, go over the trunk of the tree like that, yeah, and try to bend the tree down. That’s what I did. I went over like this, going like that, until I got where she was. Got a hold of her, hold her like this, and I let the branch go. Both of us fell down. (Laughs.) And we fell down on the ground and then I told her, ‘Hey, we got to go.’ So I carry her, ran. We ran up to higher ground and here was the sea coming in the back.” —Matthew Kalalau, Sr.

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