I survived the 1991 Halloween blizzard that crippled the upper Midwest when I lived in Minnesota. A record-setting 8.2 inches, the most snow ever recorded in the Twin Cities during the month of October. By the time the storm ended, we were covered in 36.9 inches of the fluffy white stuff, setting a single-storm record. It was definitely a, “trick,” not a, “treat.” It was a somewhat private weather disaster since most of us were trapped in our homes, safe and warm. No real threat of harm, as long as you stayed indoors. It was logical and the perfect time to gather with your family around the fireplace.
Then there were the tornadoes – specifically the ones I watched headed straight toward my father and I as we sat on the back porch steps. The May 6,1965 disaster was the most expensive tornado in Minnesota history with damages to the tune of $50 million, without an inflation adjustment. It was a pricey spectacle by Mother Nature in full-blown action. Hiding in your basement when the warning sirens sounded was always your best bet — one my father and I didn’t adhere to until the last minute, just because it was too much fun to watch a funnel cloud approaching.
Then came the earthquakes. I moved to California three days after the Jan. 17, 1994 Northridge earthquake. There were several thousand aftershocks in all. I began to think of them as mini-Disneyland rides, only they were created by Mother Nature again. Estimated property damage was more than $20 billion, making it one of the costliest natural disasters in U.S. history.
Wildfires came too close for comfort when we lived in Valencia, California. Half a mile away they were as we started preparing to evacuate. Fortunately, white ash covering our car was the worst of it for us.
When I moved to Kauai in December 2013, I was well aware of hurricanes and watched news reports showing their destruction. But being the somewhat fearless creature that I am, I lived in complete denial, until now.
With Hurricane Iselle and Hurricane Julio heading our way, I feel a bit of anxiety, I must admit.
My co-worker Dennis Fujimoto said it’s just like all the others, meaning other weather phenomena.
Really? OK. I’ll buy into that, for about as long as you can say ohana.
And that is just how I’m starting to feel as I see the community on Kauai bond together with a common cause – to be safe. In the Disney film, “Lilo and Stitch” Stitch said, “Ohana means family, family means no one gets left behind or forgotten.”
I feel a sense of ohana and salute the island for showing me a glimpse of it as I hear advice about the hurricanes and how to prepare. I never felt that shared security before a tornado twirled around my neighborhood or a snowstorm painted my world cold and white. There wasn’t enough time and I wasn’t living on the Garden Island, a paradise protected by God and each other.
Lisa Ann Capozzi is a reporter with TGI. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org