POSTED: 10:09 a.m. HST, Jul 29, 2013
LAST UPDATED: 02:00 a.m. HST, Jul 30, 2013
WAILUKU » Maui seems to have taken its storm preparations seriously as an eerie calm — and no signs of panic buying — settled over the island this morning.
Traffic was uncharacteristically light through the usually busy Central Maui corridors, no lines were seen at gas stations and there was plenty of parking at stores.
By 3 p.m., the full force of the storm had yet to reach Maui's population and commercial core of Kahului and Wailuku. With barely a puff of wind and only light sprinkles, the humidity was extreme.
Besides a sleeping homeless man, Robin Woronko of Vancouver, British Columbia, and his family were the only occupants at the American Red Cross shelter at War Memorial Gym in Wailuku at 2 p.m.
Woronko, his wife Pam and their two sons, Ethan, 10, and Avery, 6, were scheduled to take a 1 p.m. Alaska Airlines flight to Seattle, but when they arrived at Kahului Airport, they were told the flight had been canceled because of the approaching storm.
He said they were given seats on the airline's 9:15 p.m. flight to Portland, but as they had turned in their rental car, they decided to wait at the emergency shelter.
The Woronkos arrived on Maui July 20 and had a wonderful vacation,he said. While his two boys munched on snacks provided by Red Cross volunteers, Woronko said he was worried about getting back to his cabinet-making business.
"For me it's a lot of work. I've got a ton of messages and nine employees sitting around waiting for me," he said.
"But it's not that bad. Mostly it's about dealing with tired, cranky kids."
When Ethan Woronko was asked what he thought of the experience, he replied: "It's boring."
The shelter at War Memorial can hold 1,900 evacuees, but Red Cross volunteers were uncertain how the storm would develop and they hadn't been instructed yet to set up cots and other overnight accommodations. Shelter manager Angel Devlin-Brown said the shelter had been open since 9 a.m.
"We were expecting the homeless and stranded visitors, but we're waiting to see," she said.
In Waiehu, bodyboarders and surfers saw the building storm swell on east-facing shores as a chance to get in a session before the weather turned extreme.
"They said it's going to hit the east side and (the Waiehu surf spot) Churches catches an east swell," said Jacob Romero, 27, walking from his nearby home to the shore with three buddies.
Romero said he wasn't worried about the treacherous conditions. "I've been in more hectic conditions," he said.
His buddies added, "We wanna have fun."
On Sunday, residents jammed grocery and hardware stores to stock up on the necessities: water, rice, batteries, canned goods and toilet paper. A clerk at the Longs Drug Store in Wailuku, where fewer than a dozen customers were in the aisles at 8 a.m. today, said the store experienced nonstop business until its midnight closing.
Only a few single water bottles remained on the shelves this morning and other stores also were sold out of cases. However there were pallets of the precious liquid on sale at the well-stocked Safeway in Kahului despite the previous day's crush.
"It was killer," said cashier Leonie Aguiran, a 30-year Safeway employee. "All the checkout stands were open and people were in line all the way back to the meat department (at the back of the store)."
Rick Hanks, wearing a Goodyear shirt, was among a steady but light stream of customers dropping by the store this morning. He loaded a couple of cases of water and a pack toilet paper into his pickup truck for his workplace on Alamaha Street.
"They told me to go out and get this.This is the extent of our preparations," he joked.
The auto tire and repair shop was open for business and was going to "play it by ear" the rest of the day, Hanks said.
"Believe it or not there's not a lot of people coming in."