Counting down April shake-ups and showers

  • Photo by Dawn Fraser Kawahara

    A welcome scene: Sun on the mountains, blue skies and a rainbow near the author’s Kapaa home.

The sound of chopper blades fill the air over Wailua as I write this column, and it isn’t the audible signal of a green harvest or Secret Falls rescue this day. Rather, it’s the sound of what are sometimes jokingly dubbed “the Kauai Birds” flying missions to our North Shore citizens and visitors in need of help or ferrying out after the severe electric storms and rains that dumped over a yard of H2O within 24 hours. Humor aside, these flights supplement help being sent via boats and jet skis. As food, water, necessary first-aid and disinfectant supplies, and dig-out/dry-out help arrive, I’m sure the pilots, captains and all volunteer helpers may easily be elevated into the category of angels.

Can it be true that someone picked up people stranded on our northern beaches to deliver them back “to civilization” only to exact a charge of $200 for the drop-off before landing — this without a prior warning that theirs was not a purely humanitarian mission?

Ooh … those particular folks (sharks?) set bachi (retribution, bad karma) into motion to the Nth degree, to my way of thinking. Definitely on the negative side of the behavior spectrum, and the opposite of aloha.

A story like this getting out will slam us more than any tales of disappointed tourists who didn’t feel Kauai lived up to its promoted paradise destination ad. (“Why are your ocean waters brown?” “Where is the soft breeze, the sunshine?” “How come the waters are polluted?”) Word spreading will serve to offset all the very positive social promotion and press our island has received during the 26 years since Hurricane Iniki (and the four years since the last 40 days of rain and Ka Loko Dam flood).

One friend who lives in Wainiha and is skilled at survival and emergency procedures reported in as OK when we called, with “plenty of rice and beans.” She knew to boil water (plenty on hand, falling from the sky) to store. Potable water. She and her partner had attempted to evacuate as the water lapped at their porch, only to find that the friend’s home they were attempting to reach up the road was not reachable. The road had been washed out by a newly formed torrential stream. As reported, several homes had slid off and away from their foundations. Serious.

I read of a couple we know living Kalihiwai mauka (mountainward) who, because of the extreme storm, had everything cut off: road, internet, phone, and naturally, postal service. The Garden Island (TGI) reported that they were happy to be back in touch, with a one-half width of the original road restored.

These tales remind me of Iniki times, when we dealt with angels and sharks aplenty. Many of us will remember our own personal stories of challenges and small victories, and big disappointments, too. At that time, the best, most altruistic side of Kauai people was called into action, and didn’t disappoint. Members of the National Guard sent here remarked on the “no looting” and the general aloha and help being offered, neighbor to neighbor, person to person — known, or not. We had good reason to be proud as the recovery was accomplished.

Hopefully, that attitude will again override any actions on the flip side of true aloha. Many volunteers pitched in to help with the North Shore emergency situation. We may all find ways to help neighbors, friends and visitors as needs arise. We’ll also take care of our own lesser challenges, results of the heavy rains accompanying the dramatic electrical show that played this April.

When I wrote of March stealing the thunder from April’s rains (“Green Flash,” TGI Forum, March 26) , I didn’t contemplate what was (further) in store. But the sunny side of the situation, although temporarily obscured, will shine again, and all the positives mentioned in that March column still hold true.

Extreme events for people often trigger creativity as well as action. In this case, it’s a type of counting-down prose poem that started writing me as I woke this morning:

Sunday: Wake to a pre-dawn bomb — no, a thunderbolt hitting close, by Queen’s Throne; run, pull out plugs, peer through louvers lit like day, no houses on fire, dive back deep undercover, try to sleep. Re-set the circuit breaker, clocks and microwave. Run no water during the electric show. Monday: Keep an early appointment in town; groceries, gas fill in the driving rain. Roll mats, upend chairs on the flooding screened porch. Sheets and towels bump in the dryer instead of flap, pegged on the usual line. Tuesday: Find I’d cut off the landline phone, and our modem, blown. After Wailua Bridge flood abates, take another run to town, install new modem. Answer e-mails from far, “We’re A-OK”; come evening, stream Netflix film. Wednesday: Break in the rain, plant a new back hedge, earth damp and receptive. Shamas supervise, bees buzz heather blooms, puddles dry. Computer still online; writing time …

The week of the storm melted away, clouds shrouding the high mountains and intermittent rains re-visiting. The governor surveyed our disaster area by helicopter; Kauai’s rain and emergency made national news; millionaires donated relief funds; linemen and road crews worked overtime. Koloa ducks and water birds frolicked. People dried off and cleaned up mud, mold, litter; tutus raked, swept and mopped. Friends sprang to action, clearing favorite beaches and ponds. Bridges reopened; kids went back to school. What’s your week-of-the-storm story, Dear Reader?

•••

Dawn Fraser Kawahara, author and poet, made her home on Kauai in the 1980s. She and her husband, a retired biology teacher, live with books, music and birds in Wailua Homesteads. Shared passions are travel and nature. The writer’s books may be found in local outlets and on Amazon. For further information, contact tropicbirdpress@gmail.com.

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