My husband and I were on Kauai in September, 1992. We got the call at 6:00 AM – to evacuate the hotel, and go to the Koloa Elementary School. Until then, we were only vaguely aware of a storm approaching – perhaps someone talked about it at the bar the night before (which explains ‘vaguely’).
That morning, we grabbed a few things and headed out to the school with about 500 of our closest friends. Iniki was still hours away, but it was already raining and the wind was picking up. There we were in the cafeteria of the school, crowded onto benches and trying to figure out what we were going to do for the next nn hours. For us, northeasterners, the waiting was part of the normalcy for storms and hurricanes. But some of the people there were pretty much basket cases. They were from California, or other locales, and were not comfortable with a 12-24 hour wait.
They said to us that an earthquake, while scary, hit and then was pretty much over. They didn’t get advance notice, and it didn’t drag on for hours.
During that day, and the days that followed, we learned a lot about community. Even though we were ‘only’ tourists, the locals were amazing. There was an older lady, Auntie Lee-lee, who came down from her home and entertained children and adults with songs and stories of the Hawaiian islands. There were the Red Cross volunteers, who cooked meals for us, and helped us organize into task forces to handle issues such as sanitary practices (there was no running water) and the like. There were the people who came down from their homes with blankets and bottles of water to give aid to us – total strangers.
The eye of Iniki came thru around 1:00 and then the island was whipped by the backside of the hurricane. There was tremendous damage done to ‘The Garden Isle’ – but the locals said it was Mother Nature’s way of clearing out and making room for new growth.
We were ‘stuck’ on Kauai (in the school) for three days. We built latrines, made lots of friends, and thru it all, never really felt in danger, either from the storm or from our fellow humans. Looting after the hurricane was very rare. The general feeling was one of ‘We are all in this together’ – and it was a remarkable one. I’ve always felt that if I had to chose a place to be in that kind of predicament, I would chose Kauai again.
There are fine communities everywhere – even virtual ones, like what we have here on SAP Community Network. And in two weeks, there will be a real-life meeting of thousands of members of this community in Las Vegas. You can’t get much further from the Garden Isle of Kauai than Las Vegas, now can you?
So, Hurricane Irene may be bearing down on us… And I hope that you all are just fine. I hope that you can share some water with a neighbor, or have communal meals, or maybe just play cards with the nervous people from California for a few hours.
And then, I will look forward to seeing you at SAPTechEd LV!