LIHUE — When it comes to the potential approaching storms, John Zimmerman says he’s more worried about the less fortunate on Kauai than himself.
“My heart goes out to the poor, young families who don’t have the discretionary income to prepare for a hurricane,” he said. “There’s always going to be someone in need, if it hits.”
That’s why Zimmerman, a minister at Kalaheo Missionary Church, has stockpiled bottles of water and non-perishable foods at the church in case people are affected by the heavy wind and rain expected this weekend, as a result of Hurricane Lester.
“Most of my preparation is for other people,” he said. “The doors are open.”
At his home, Zimmerman placed wooden panels on his avocado, papaya and mango trees, to give it more support during stronger winds.
He also has a collection of 40 coconuts.
“We can live off of that stuff, if we have to,” he said.
Hurricane Madeline was downgraded to a tropical storm Thursday, passing south of The Big Island.
On Thursday, the National Weather Service issued a hurricane watch for the Big Island, Maui, Molokai and Lanai, as Hurricane Lester, which is now a Category 3 Hurricane, approaches.
“It’s too far away from Kauai or Oahu to issue a watch or warning,” said Ian Morrison, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Honolulu.
But Morrison said Kauai should expect an increase in winds starting Saturday. The north side of the island is expected to see 20 to 30 mph winds, he said.
Heavy rains are expected to hit Kauai on Saturday and continue through Monday, Morrison added.
As of 2 p.m. Thursday, Hurricane Lester was 635 miles east of Hilo and 935 miles east-southeast of Kauai.
If Hurricane Lester goes north, Kauai will likely only receive heavy rain, Morrison said.
Gregg Townsley, who lives in Lihue, said he isn’t worried about the storm activity in the Pacific.
“I have no anxiety, no fear,” he said. “I’m prepared for anything that comes.”
Townsley credits his faith in Jesus with keeping him calm.
“Even if the worst of the worst comes, I’m okay with where I’m going,” he said.
To prepare for the storm, Townsley bought extra bottles of water, cans of tuna and frozen food.
“I prepare as I go,” he said. “I’m not getting the sense that we’re going to get slammed.”
Bard Widmer, who lives in Kapaa, agreed.
“I prepare based on my intuition,” he said. “I figure I’d feel it in my bones if the storm is coming.”
Widmer said he let his wife take control over preparing for the hurricane.
“She’s ready, she’s preparing. It balances us out,” he said.
Roberta Johnson of Kalaheo said her family started preparing for potential storms at the beginning of the season.
“We stocked up on basics, like toilet paper, charcoal, batteries and beans,” she said. “We haven’t gone overboard.”
Johnson trusts her husband, who is a “weather guru,” to keep an eye on the storms.
“Once he starts getting concerned, I’ll start to worry,” she said. “He’s not panicked about it.”
If the weather changes, Johnson said her neighbors will pool together to rations supplies.
“We’d help each other, in terms of getting food and water,” she said.
Inda Guirao, who lived through Hurricane Iniki, which hit the island in 1992, said she isn’t worried about Hurricane Lester.
“We’re used to it,” she said.”We have the basics, like candles, booze and water, but we’re not stockpiling.”
When Iniki hit, Guirao had a three-month-old baby and had just moved into a new house.
“I wasn’t worried about Iniki. I was worried after it hit—there was a lot of destruction, and we went weeks without electricity.”
Lester is expected to weaken over today and Saturday.