All those buzzwords like sustainability and resilience —
All those catchphrases in current educational trends, like ingenuity and grit —
All the things we in Hawaii are certain that we are: generous, collaborative, peace-loving, strong —
All those lofty ideas are about to be put to the test.
And it’s a big test. It’s a practical exam.
Hurricane Lane will be the closest, biggest hurricane Hawaii has had in a quarter-century.
There have been lots of close calls, with windstorms, floods, tsunami warnings and that false missile alert, but nothing that loomed over the entire state for so long and sent supply ships back out to sea.
Though we won’t know what trouble we’ll have to deal with until it is upon us, we do know what might happen:
Days or weeks without fully stocked grocery stores.
Days or weeks without electricity.
Houses and cars with damage that can’t be quickly repaired.
Worrying about drinking water. Worrying about gas for the car.
In 1992 when Hurricane Iniki hit Kauai, people didn’t carry cellphones or use email. Instead of Netflix, there was Blockbuster. Instead of Walmart and Amazon, there was Big Save. There were fewer conveniences to miss in the days following the storm. Still, when McDonald’s finally reopened in Lihue, weary can-fed Iniki survivors lined up down the street for a taste of normalcy.
We live in a new normal, with myriad conveniences to miss.
The technology we employ to communicate could very well be inoperable for a while. The steady rush of information we’ve become accustomed to may be greatly reduced or stop altogether.
We may not be able to post status updates to our followers.
We may not be able to look at an online menu and order anything we like and have it delivered to our front door.
We may not be able to take a shower or wash clothes or resume our specific personal routines right away.
In ways we have not even anticipated, we may be called upon to make do, and perhaps we have forgotten how.
So far, it seems that people are in good spirits. There have been no reports of bad behavior, and some anecdotes about neighbors promising to look out for one another or sightings of big dudes helping smaller people carry pallets of water to the car. But if the effects of this large storm are significant and lasting, even the nicest people can get irritated and short, even desperate.
This is our first real test of whether we can we survive on our wits and our tech-addled ingenuity, and whether we will maintain the strength of character and generosity of heart that Hawaii has always claimed as part of its basic, deepest collective self. This is the time for us to rise up and work together. This is the test of what we’re made of, individually and collectively. Even if Hurricane Lane delivers only a passing blow, this is a test of Hawaii’s ability to take care of ourselves and each other.
Reach Lee Cataluna at 529-4315 or firstname.lastname@example.org.