CRESCENT CITY, Calif. —
Across the islands, people stocked up on bottled water, canned foods and toilet paper. Authorities opened buildings to people fleeing low-lying areas. Fishermen took their boats out to sea, away from harbors and marinas where the waves would be most intense.
Residents did the same last February, when an 8.8-magnitude quake in Chile prompted tsunami warnings. The waves did little damage then.
Early Friday, the tsunami waves reached Hawaii, tossing boats in Honolulu. The water covered beachfront roads and rushed into hotels on the Big Island. The waves carried a house out to sea. Seven-foot waves flooded low-lying areas in Maui.
As the sun rose, people breathed a sigh of relief.
"With everything that could have happened and did happen in Japan, we're just thankful that nothing else happened," said Sabrina Skiles, who along with her husband spent a sleepless night at his office in Maui. Their beachfront house was unscathed.
Many other Pacific islands also evacuated their shorelines for a time. In Guam, the waves broke two U.S. Navy submarines from their moorings, but tug boats brought them back to their pier.
In Oregon, the first swells to hit the U.S. mainland were barely noticeable.
Sirens pierced the air in Seaside, a popular tourist town near the Washington state line. Restaurants, gift shops and other beachfront businesses stayed shuttered.
Thousands of people in Oregon and hundreds in Washington state fled to higher ground at the approach of the waves, waiting until the all-clear before returning.
Albert Wood said he and his wife decided to leave their home late Thursday night after watching news about the Japan quake — the fifth-largest earthquake since 1900.
Wood was expecting the waves to get bigger and more intense than what he saw. Still, he shook his head as the cars lining the hills began to drive west, into the lowlands adjacent to the shore.