KIHEI, Maui >> As the first strong gusts from Hurricane Lane began buffeting South Maui this afternoon, newlyweds Ben and Cat Tiemeyer packed up their beach chairs at Kamaole Beach Park I to return to the cottage they had rented for their weeklong honeymoon.
“We thought we’d come out one last time before the hurricane,” said Cat Tiemeyer, 19, of San Antonio, Texas.
The county park was closed today, and the Tiemeyers were among fewer than a dozen people on the popular beach.
Heavier winds and tropical storm weather were expected to ramp up Thursday on Maui, with hurricane conditions in some areas Thursday night and into Friday, according to the Central Pacific Hurricane Center. The island’s south- and west-facing shores could see dangerous storm surges and erosion, and people are being advised to avoid shoreline areas.
The Texas couple are scheduled to fly out from Kahului Airport Thursday night but tried to change their American Airlines reservations to leave today in case flights are canceled.
Ben Tiemeyer, 22, said they called the airline and were told all the earlier flights were booked.
“We wanted to play it safe in case the hurricane comes close,” he said. “This one sounds like it’s a big one and we’d rather not mess around with it.”
Also at the beach park Wednesday were Delia Walker and Stanley Marinia, who arrived on Maui Tuesday and are keeping their plans to fly to Honolulu Saturday.
The well-traveled couple said they have been in hurricane weather before during their frequent trips to the Caribbean. They appeared unconcerned about the approaching storm.
“I have been in so many hurricanes in my life. I survived all those and I’ll survive this one too,” said Walker, 61, of Augusta, Ga.
“It will be something to tell my grandkids about.”
Other visitors to Maui were more anxious to leave the island ahead of Hurricane Lane. There were long lines at Kahului Airport at middayas travelers checked in for their mainland flights and others tried to change their reservations to fly out early.
Brian and Norma Russell of Monrovia, Calif., were unusual in that they were trying to stay a couple days longer. The couple own a unit at Island Surf on South Kihei Road, just across from the beach, and were supposed to return home today.
“We want to ride it out to make sure our home is OK,” said Norma Russell, 69.