Remembering Hurricane Iniki.

Well, the tropical storm has moved on after taking its sweet time passing over these islands. Calvin, it turns out, was not much more than an annoyance: How can I say that? Because we never lost power, which is the acid test.

I’ve been in Hawaii for over 60 years and back then tropical storms and hurricanes were quite rare. Almost all of the bad ones passed harmlessly well to the south of these islands, heading west out into the vast Pacific Ocean where they just blew themselves out.

But not Hurricane Iniki (ee-NEE-kee), which was the most powerful storm in recorded history. It was traveling on a typical east-to-west course well south of the islands and not bothering anyone.

Then, suddenly, on September 11, 1992, the storm made a 90-degree turn to the north and smacked head-on into the Island of Kauai. And it made a huge mess. 

Sustained winds were recorded at 140 miles-per-hour; gusts were higher. The director of the Public Works Department for the island told me that Iniki had generated 30 years worth of trash in 90 minutes! 

The clean-up literally took years. After all, you can’t just pick up the phone, order 11,000 telephone poles to be delivered 3,000 miles out in the middle of the Pacific Ocean, and expect delivery in two weeks!

And all these years later, the reminders of Hurricane Iniki are still seen everywhere  on Kauai:  Chickens . . . running loose all over the island . . . thousands of them!  They are the descendants of the chickens who were liberated when Iniki blew down their flimsy home-made backyard chicken coops.

Now THAT was a storm!