Swept Away - Words and Music by Gordon Manuel Freitas

Old Hilo town in forty-six , waking up April Fool's Day
Hilo sugar sendin' smoke in the sky, a harbor wave coming their way
Hilo bay waters receded while people ran down to the shore
To marvel at Mother ocean exposing her secret sea floor

Who can predict what can happen when ocean is up to her tricks
The first wave arrived with the sunrise, it roared in at seven 'o six
No time to run, high ground too far; the town was a bone to be chewed
A wall of water came pounding down Kamehameha Avenue

Keaukaha houses pushed in the street; the frontage road homes washed away
Threads of existence worn and frayed, a lot of good folk lost that day
Hilo Theater still standing not too much around it was saved
The Kress building stood the highest above the crests of the incoming waves

Swept away, swept away,
A tiny town by the ocean
Got swallowed up by her bay
Swept away

God bless the folks of Hilo town who lost something down by that shore
They say don't turn your back on the ocean; It'll swallow you up for sure
Swept away, swept away
A tiny town by the ocean
Got swallowed up by her bay
Swept away, swept away, swept away...

Source: Recorded by Gordon M. Freitas "Local Folks" CD. - April 1, 1946 at 6:33 a.m., the first tsunami (tidal wave) hit Kauaʻi with minimal damage. Less than a hour later, it hit the North Shore of Oʻahu with some destruction. On to Molokaʻi, pass Maui and finally hitting Hilo, the wave pushed 4 blocks inward to Kamehameha Avenue, the main street. What was not destroyed in the initial force was taken away with the tsunami when it receded. The withdrawal left the reef exposed and the harbor without water. Then the second wave hit. Final tally left 83 dead, 13 missing and $25 million in destruction. The composer was inspired by a series of black and white photos of the tsnami on display at Hilo's Hawaiian Airlines terminal. He jotted down a few notes about the tsunami that hit Hilo at sunrise on April Fool's Day, 1946. The whole song was completed by the time he got off the plane in Honolulu. This is his tribute to the Hilo people and has been performed in conjunction with the "tsunami awareness" programs.