Elsewhere there was shocked elation as neighbours hugged.
“You made it!” cried Chyna Cho, as she embraced Amber Langdon amid the ruins. “I was trying to find you.”
For Keith Todd there was the unspeakable relief of finding his home still standing, his solar panels still pumping electricity to his kitchen.
“I just couldn’t believe it,” Todd told AFP.
“I’m so grateful, but at the same time it’s so devastating,” he said, looking around at the unrecognisable piles that were once his neighbours’ homes.
Here and there in the seemingly bombed-out landscape were pockets of improbable hope.
The Maria Lanakila Catholic Church was seemingly unscathed, looming over the ashes of Waine’e Street.
The stone walls of the historic Hale Pa’ahao prison still stood, but the wooden building that was used to punish unruly sailors was no more – 170 years of history wiped out.
Blocks away, Front Street, where restaurants had jostled with clothing stores for a view of the harbor, was all-but gone.
Boats that had been moored in the harbor days earlier were blackened, melted or sunk.