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Tuesday, June 18, 2024 75° Today's Paper


Rearview Mirror: Hawaii residents banded together when hurricanes wreaked havoc

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                                Above, Poipu on Kauai was hard hit by Iniki. An American flag flies amid the rubble from four homes that once stood mauka of Poipu Beach Park.
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Above, Poipu on Kauai was hard hit by Iniki. An American flag flies amid the rubble from four homes that once stood mauka of Poipu Beach Park.

STAR-ADVERTISER 
                                Hurricane Iniki knocked down power lines on Kauai in 1992. Some residents were without electricity and water for weeks.
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STAR-ADVERTISER

Hurricane Iniki knocked down power lines on Kauai in 1992. Some residents were without electricity and water for weeks.

UPI
                                The USS Indianapolis was sent to Kauai to jump-start its power plants following Hurricane Iwa in 1982 but was not used. Former Mayor Tony Kunimura said the submarine had “enough generator capacity to light up the island like a Christmas tree.”
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UPI

The USS Indianapolis was sent to Kauai to jump-start its power plants following Hurricane Iwa in 1982 but was not used. Former Mayor Tony Kunimura said the submarine had “enough generator capacity to light up the island like a Christmas tree.”

STAR-ADVERTISER
                                Above, Poipu on Kauai was hard hit by Iniki. An American flag flies amid the rubble from four homes that once stood mauka of Poipu Beach Park.
STAR-ADVERTISER 
                                Hurricane Iniki knocked down power lines on Kauai in 1992. Some residents were without electricity and water for weeks.
UPI
                                The USS Indianapolis was sent to Kauai to jump-start its power plants following Hurricane Iwa in 1982 but was not used. Former Mayor Tony Kunimura said the submarine had “enough generator capacity to light up the island like a Christmas tree.”

June marks the beginning of hurricane season in the Central Pacific. Hurricanes Dot (1959), Iwa (1982), and Iniki (1992) were the most consequential in recent times. They left over $6 billion in damage in their wake.

I asked readers how they were affected by them. Here are some of their stories.

Hurricane Iwa

Ken Takeya was working at Foodland when Hurricane Iwa hit Oahu the day before Thanksgiving, 1982.

“The Windward side did not have any power so Foodland CEO Sully Sullivan made a decision to open the Kailua Foodland store on Thanksgiving Day to help the community. In the 1980s, stores were typically closed on Thanksgiving.

“I remember having to ask employees to volunteer to work that day. The entire staff agreed and we decided to open from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m.

“Each customer had to be escorted by an employee with a flashlight since it was pitch-dark in the store.

“Word had gotten out that we were open and the line outside was very long. We had taped the freezer doors closed but people were still buying ice cream and frozen pizza.

“As busy as we were, the customers did not complain and some even put their purchases in their cars and came back to help us escort the next customers around and bag groceries. We were not able to close till 3 p.m.

“One thing that stands out most is while we were putting things away and getting ready to leave, we had many of our loyal customers coming back to bring us food as a thank you for opening, so we had a pre-Thanksgiving meal in the store before we went home.

“I believe that set the tone for most supermarkets opening on most of the holidays today.”

A good Samaritan

Clyde Matsui had this story. “Hurricane Iwa made landfall in the days before Thanksgiving in 1982. Wind speeds on Oahu eclipsed 100 mph, knocking out power to most, if not all, of the island.

“Besides the usual personal safety and property damage concerns, there was an additional worry: What to do with the turkey that was in the midst of a days-long defrosting process.

“At the Nuuanu YMCA there was a cafeteria, operated by a family of Kenneth Uehara. The place was a hidden gem and a frequent lunch spot for those of us working in the downtown area who were fortunate enough to know of their excellent comfort food.

“He let it be known to some among us that he was willing to roast our birds in his large gas ovens. No charge. Just a helping hand when one was desperately needed.”

Impending doom

Roger Mina said, “When Hurricane Iniki came in 1992, I was an assistant food and beverage manager at the Hawaii Prince Hotel Waikiki. All of the managers that weren’t already on duty were called in to prepare the hotel for the emergency.

“We had to move all of the lobby furnishings to the mezzanine and banquet room levels and all of the pool furniture was thrown into the swimming pool. We prepared our main ballroom as a gathering and feeding area for all of our guests in case they couldn’t stay in their rooms.

“Once everything was set, a bunch of us stood outside the main entrance of the hotel on the Ala Wai Harbor side and watched as the water started to rise above the boat moorings and up to the steps that led up from the street level to the hotel driveway.

“The one thing I will never forget and always notice when a heavy storm is about to arrive is the warm air that is present. It may not be blowing hard but it feels like that scene in a movie where the characters feel a sense of impending doom. That is the only way I can explain it.”

Nuclear sub?

“Hurricane Iwa wiped out much of Kauai’s electrical grid except for the plantation bagasse-fired electrical systems which fed into it,” Alvin Yee said.

“I seem to recall that a nuclear submarine was dispatched to Nawiliwili to jump-start Kauai, but when someone went to Lihue Plantation to find some wire to make a jumper cable, technicians merely flipped a few switches to jump-start the Nawiliwili generator and the nuclear submarine was never used.

“What exactly happened in that story?”

The nuclear submarine USS Indianapolis did go to Kauai after Hurricane Iwa hit in November 1982, and the story ran in newspapers around the country.

I asked Jan Tenbruggencate, who was a Honolulu Advertiser reporter for 37 years and is now on the Kauai Island Utility Cooperative board of directors, what he knew about it.

He said the nuclear submarine’s power was cabled up Nawiliwili Road to the Lihue Mill at the same time a connection was being established from Kauai Electric’s generating station at Port Allen to the mill.

“The power was required to restart Lihue Mill’s big 25-megawatt power plant. Ultimately, both lines (from the sub and from Port Allen) were available at the same time. An engineer opted to use the Port Allen line.

“So nuclear power never did actually power Kauai.”

Iwa brought us together

Carol Sakai-Feiteira said, “When Hurricane Iwa hit Oahu, I was living in an apartment on Piikoi Street. Our power went out for about three hours.”

Her parents’ house near King Intermediate School in Kaneohe was in a pocket area and was without electricity for three weeks. Food in their refrigerators had spoiled.

“I previously told my Thrifty Car Rental co-workers on Maui and Kauai that they could stay at our apartment when they flew in to do their Christmas shopping rather than pay for a hotel,” Sakai-Feiteira continued.

“Our Maui manager, Glenn Feiteira, took me up on the offer. I told him that I’d take him shopping, but asked him to help at my parents’ home. They were on the mainland.

“We went to Kaneohe and pulled out the banana plants that were destroyed and emptied the two refrigerators.

“Hurricane Iwa turned out to be a blessing in disguise. Glenn and I started dating and have been happily married since 1985!”

I asked her how sparks could fly with no electricity. She replied, “Trust, respect, and friendship grew into love. Plus a dozen long stemmed red roses for my December birthday! And roses and flowers at least four times a year ever since!”

If you have a story about how you were affected by a hurricane, send me an email.

This is an El Nino year. Its warmer water means Pacific storms and hurricanes might be stronger and more numerous. I encourage all of us to be prepared.

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Bob Sigall is the author of the five “The Companies We Keep” books. Contact him at Sigall@Yahoo.com or sign up for his free newsletter at RearviewMirrorInsider.com.

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