AND THE GOOD NEWS
August 23, 2015

On Saturday, September 5, 1992, I heard about Iniki that morning. It was a hustle and a half  ‘battening down the hatches’ and getting my zoo–three horses, one dog and four cats–to safe shelter.

Once again I stayed home with the animals. (I’d spent Ewa in the barn with two horses on property surrounding the house on the Alexander Dam Road.) “We’ll all go together when we go,” I said then. And now. We cuddled up in the barn as hurricane winds brought down branches and stripped every leaf off every tree as far as the eye could see.

A nude tree is a very strange sight to behold.

The next day was so beautiful–swept clean of dirt, dust and debris–it blossomed like an hibiscus  in the hearts of all survivors. Across the street cattle, that had gathered at the bottom of my green valley, rose to their feet and sauntered back up the hill to graze.

The rest of the island looked like a war had stormed through. Houses at the top of the hill appeared  perfectly normal, until you caught on their roofs were missing. A house without a roof is a strange sight, too.

We’d been hit, darkness dulled the light, and passed through the eye–sunny, cloudless and clear blue sky–and been hit again. I think everyone who went through that remembers the morning after. That glorious glorious day. The air smelled sweet. The sound of no traffic a welcome silence.

In front of my house hundred of birds had feathered down–an animal knows instinctively where to find haven–and they began singing at first light, their tweets and twitters and bird lyrics an ode to joy. A peahen in a bare tree screeched as only a peahen can screech and livened up the party.

I think most of us were unprepared for Iniki. We swallowed our fear, took a deep breath, and rode it through.

Times are different.

We watched Kilo form south of us. We know that El Nino has gone berserk and may continue its berserkness until April. I’ve heard that because of climate confusion–global warming, whatever you want to call it–to follow the path of our storms is unpredictable. They can go anywhere.

I’m happy we were forewarned. Those of us who had computers watched Kilo–a strange critter–strengthen and weaken and lolligag around like winds on LSD. It couldn’t make up its mind. Did it have a mind? A destination? Or was it just on a spree?

What I do think is: if this is the way it’ll go until April, we’ll all be nervous wrecks.

I hope we get honest reporting. Not headlines to sell papers or religion. Please Editors–newsmen, talking heads–don’t become little boys who cry wolf. We need to be prepared. You need to be prepared. But we don’t need Tom Foolery.

I think Kauai can show the world how well we can handle reason, truth and disaster.

 

 

 

WILD HURRICANES I HAVE KNOWN
June 2, 2015

I’ve weathered four.  My husband and I escaped the ravages of Typhoon Jean, dodging caribou and ballistic teak logs the size of a Kauai bus shooting by us in a Philippine Airline jet taking off from a beach in Aparri, a primitive village in the province of Cagayan, Luzon-one bar, one outdoor movie, one hotel- on the banks of the South China Sea.  Aparri survived. Today it’s a first class municipality.

We made the fastest flight- ever- back to Manila that day. Jean was the biggest typhoon of the season.

A typhoon is a hurricane that swirls and whirls and rips around in another neighborhood.

The Aparri memory is a cute storyI tell often.

But hurricanes are not cute. No one can ever say ‘been there, done that’ or ‘seen one seen ’em all’ . Platitudes don’t apply. Each storm’s different. They’ve personalities all their own, and always a very human side.

In 1970 we were in Mississippi a year after Hurricane Camille demolished Gulfport and were amazed at the mess. A tug boat still  balanced  on its keel in the middle of a forest. It looked as though it’d just been planted. Along millionaire’s row, all a two story mansion had to show for itself were water pipes standing upright indicating bathrooms on a vanished second floor.

Hurricane Iwa-November 22, 1982-sent our beloved boat, Warpath in Kukuiula Harbor, over the top of a swimming pool and broke her back. She was headed for safe port in the red barn across the street.  We’d built the barn for $900.00. All by myself I tar- papered the roof. Not a corner  lifted. On Kauai’s millionaire’s row, it looked as though a war had gone through.

I’d spent a terrifying night in the barn with my horses in the lava rock house up the Alexander Dam Road. All I was was the howl of that wind

Bill-who was needed at the power plant in Wainiha- and I, coming home that  night, had a most incredible surprise in store for us.. On the north shore at Tahiti Nui, Louise Marston  prepared-on the beach-a Thanksgiving dinner to end all Thanksgiving dinners-the works-to those who could find their way to her open door. A generous, marvelous, wonderful woman, I miss her. We sat at a savory table with locals, hippies, surfers, tourists from everywhere, survivors, and indulged. I’ve never felt so thankful. I didn’t say grace but I thought it.

Back home, we’d just put the roof on our new house. Not a shingle lifted.

September 6, 1992, Iniki- the strongest storm to hit Hawaii-barreled through. I was alone. I spent the night here.  Three horses locked in stalls. Me and the dogs and cats hunkered down in my old Buick. I had carrots for the horses, nibbles for the dog and cats, and a bottle of wine for me. Before the night was over, the horses were eating dog food while the dogs and cats munched carrots. I didn’t share the wine.

My experienced advice during hurricane season? Be prepared.