WAILUA — The students from the Okinawa Prefectural College of Nursing were carefree about the impending threat from Hurricane Lane Tuesday morning during the Mahelona Hospital end of summer beach outing at the Lydgate Park.
“They’re not worried about it,” said Char Ono, of the Kauai Community College Nursing Department. “They have a typhoon season which is the same time as our hurricane season. We’re worried more about their welfare as hosts.”
The Okinawa Prefectural College of Nursing students, all 11 of them, are one of the keys to the Mahelona Hospital beach outing.
“Hurry,” said Maureen Tabura, a Kauai Community College Nursing Department instructor. “Josie Pablo wants the residents in and out of the water before the surf gets higher.”
The beach outing took place under a veil of panic in the city as the government leaders encouraged people to be mindful of the storm’s track and the possible impacts of Hurricane Lane, including high surf, rain, and wind.
“We couldn’t cancel this outing,” said Pablo, the Hawaii Health Systems Corp., Kauai Region recreation director. “We have been partnering with the Okinawa Prefectural College of Nursing program for 18 years. When we canceled one outing due to weather, the students were so disappointed. The Mahelona Hospital staff are doing preparations for the storm, and this beach outing serves as a diversion for the residents. It gives them something else to think about instead of the storm.”
One of the spectators watching the activity unfold was Charlie Do from California.
“This is so wonderful,” Do said. “This is the spirit of Hawaii where you take care of your own. This is good quality of life. It makes me want to invest in retirement, here. I’m going to go back to California to see if I can instill some of this spirit with people there.”
Pablo said in addition to providing quality of life, the event served as a birthday celebration for resident Barbara Omori, whose sister Shirley Ibe flew in from Honolulu for the occasion.
Placido Valenciano, Mahelona Hospital physical therapist, added that Pablo celebrated her birthday Tuesday and volunteer Derek Kawakami, a mayoral candidate, added his birthday was on Monday — a lot of reasons to celebrate, and not worry too much about the storm.
“If the storm is going to come, it’s going to come,” Pablo said. “We can’t do much about it. Today, it’s about all our volunteers — Don Price, Wilma Chandler, the Kilauea Social Club, and the Okinawa Prefectural College of Nursing students who make it possible for our residents, including the seven from Kauai Veterans Memorial Hospital, to enjoy the last days of summer.”
Dennis Fujimoto, staff writer and photographer, can be reached at 245-0453 or firstname.lastname@example.org.