What Kauai usually looks like.

What Kauai usually looks like.

As my sister and brother-in-law prepare themselves and their Honolulu apartment for Hurricanes Iselle and Julio, which are expected to hit the Hawaiian islands in the next day or so, I reflect back with a bit of melancholy on the last (and only) hurricane I’ve experienced. It was 1992 – I was five, and I remember Iniki in pieces. The hurricane was serious; it destroyed a few thousand homes, killed a handful and left the island with millions of dollars in damage, but I was so young I was blissfully ignorant.

I remember waking up to the sound of my parent’s muffled voices and the radio playing in the background. ‘Why isn’t Mom screaming at me to get ready for school?’

I remember following my family into the Convention Hall, one of the island’s few performing arts centers that was to serve as our sleeping quarters for the evening, Dad carrying a big yellow Ikea bag with blankets.

Inside the Convention Hall, I remember feeling sticky, the air humid. Standing in the lobby as I waited to use the restroom, pools of water collecting at my little feet.

In the auditorium, I remember a glimpse of the raging wind and rain, palm trees manic as one of the side stage doors flung open.

I remember laying down between the aisles; cold and hard, but otherwise safe with Mom, Dad and my younger sister.

Iniki passed and we were allowed to go home. Driving home in our silver Mazda sedan, from the back seat I saw surroundings disheveled – downed trees and branches, sunken roofs, debris everywhere.

Back home, I bypassed the soaked living room and the gaping hole in the roof and went straight for the closet – my toys were still there. I was five.

Days later, I remember perching on the outside wall as we waited our turn for the water truck, I was barefoot and unaware.

Years later and on the brink of another hurricane, my sister, the only family member who still lives in the islands is now in charge of safety preparation and coordination, and we are now old enough to fully grasp the potential threat of a natural disaster.

The concern is real, but I suppose with other things in life, peace of mind comes a little easier when one knows what to expect. For now, we wait, we monitor the news and await word from Oahu when it’s over. At least my sister is taking it in stride. She just sent me this, which is more for the folks from or back home than anyone else:

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Photo credit: The Internet.

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