PRINCEVILLE — When many visitors on Kauai heard Hurricane Lane was barreling their way, they decided to stick it out rather than flee for home.
One Washington state couple said the hurricane threat is better than the smoky air they’ve been breathing back home.
Megan Justice and Matt Draggoo arrived Monday morning and on Thursday were at Church of the Pacific in Princeville, where an American Red Cross shelter was open.
“We were actually supposed to be on the Pacific Coast Trail this entire week, but our entire state’s on fire so we scheduled a last-minute trip to Kauai Sunday night,” she said.
Despite the threat of Hurricane Lane, the air is clean over here, which to them is a relief.
“We checked the weather and it was just kind of partly cloudy, partly sunny, but mainly it was just clean air,” Draggoo said. “Where I live, it was over 400 parts per million, so its severely toxic and I’ve been there for three weeks just in a cloud.”
The couple had planned on camping for their entire trip, so they already had all of their gear with them.
“So technically we didn’t really have to unpack anything and we had hammocks to sleep in, we’ve been staying at the state parks and it’s been epic,” Draggoo said.
The couple said their families are reacting differently to news that there’s a hurricane headed their way.
“His families is like, ‘oh, have fun in the hurricane, don’t get too wet,’ whereas my parents are texting me every five minutes making sure that we’re on higher ground, do you have enough water, do you have food, you should go to the grocery store for one last item,” said Justice.
At just after noon Thursday, throngs of people were lined up at Kilauea Bakery and Pizza, ordering pizza slices, soups, paninis, espresso and baked snacks.
Seattle residents John and Nisha Hochwalt are visiting Kauai to celebrate their 15th wedding anniversary. Their daughter Iris is along on the trip.
“We got to the island last Friday night, but we just got up to this area earlier today,” John said.
The impending storm had the family a little anxious, but because everyone’s being calm about it, he’s following their lead.
“We have some extra supplies, we’ve got the car filled with gas and then make sure we’ve got some books to entertain us,” he said.
Visiting with family from California and Washington state, Barbara Pochop they hadn’t heard about the possibility of a hurricane until they arrived to Kauai on Monday.
“When we got here we caught wind of it and everybody seemed pretty relaxed, but when we were at Costco, all the water was gone, hit a couple of other stores, toilet paper, all the water’s gone, so it may be a little more of a big deal than we had initially thought,” she said.
The family is planning on hunkering down the rest of the weekend.
“We have enough food and water and wine to get us through,” she said.
Princeville resident Ajia Sclafani, who is attending the University of Hawaii at Manoa, had just began the new semester, but she was already back on Kauai because of the threat of the storm.
“They made us go to all these briefings and stuff, classes are canceled too right now, that’s why I’m here, Thursday and Friday no classes and in the safety meetings they talked about how we need to be as far away from windows as possible when the storm hits,” she said.
When the storm hits, the school told students it’s best to be in the bathrooms on the lowest floor and to stay with people, she said.
In the school’s lobby, they gave out bottles of water, she said.
“I didn’t know I was coming here yet and I went to Walmart on Oahu near Ala Moana, that was completely just bare. I went to Safeway, I couldn’t find any water there, so I’m stoked that the lobby had something,” she said.
The day feels like any other day, Manix Wolan said.
“I have some Band-Aids in my wallet, my house is pretty much the same as it has always been and hopefully we don’t get wrecked,” he said.
The experience is kind of fun, he said.
“It’s like some entertainment provided by nature. I guess I’m not too worried, like I don’t really see what’s the worst unless my house blows away, we have a concrete house, we’ll be fine, we’ll be in there for a couple of days, that’s the worst that can really happen,” he said.
Bethany Freudenthal, crime, courts and county reporter, can be reached at 652-7891 or firstname.lastname@example.org.