Hurricane experience in Hawaii

Danny and I were married on September 5th, 1992. On the 6th we took Hawaiian Airlines to the beautiful island of Kauai for our honeymoon. When we arrived we could certainly see why it’s called the Garden Island, everything is so lush and green. Thick trees with bright blossoms decorated every part of the island, the creamed colored sand is lapped by warm turquoise waves and the air is filled with the smell of white ginger.


A helicopter ride took us to Waimea Canyon where we hovered in the valleys of colorful volcanic mountains abundant with green vegetation. There we watched as lacy waterfalls plummeted hundreds of feet off the cliffs that surrounded us. We spent a evening having dinner at the lovely Princeville Hotel, all newly decorated in the serene oriental motif, and a morning having breakfast at the Hanalei Bay Resort overlooking the bay with Bali Hai mountain peering at us in the distance.


Yes, this was paradise and I was so thankful to my sister Cathy for her wedding present, the use of her gorgeous home set against huge full trees just off the Princeville golf course. To take in the view, the second story was basically all windows. From one window you could see a double rainbow in the morning; from another watch a towering waterfall, and another, gives you a view of the ocean in the distance. In the evening, we could walk out on the lanai and watch the sunset over Bali Hai. We never expected anything to disturb our tranquil setting.

Thursday, September 10 we decided to go into Kapaa town to see the Fern Grotto and take in a Luau. We would stay there that night in a condo by the beach and continue on to Poipu Beach the next day to see the elaborate Westin Hotel. Our first indication that anything could be wrong was when we came back from the luau and saw lines of cars at the gas station. It was about 11:30 PM. When we asked the reason, the driver explained nonchalantly, that people fill their gas tanks when there is any threat of a hurricane. We dismissed the thought until 2 AM when we were awakened by a member of the staff telling us to pick up a paper that explained what to do in case of a hurricane. They revealed that later we could be evacuated to the school in Kapaa. We decided to go back to Cathy’s house in Princeville which is on higher ground.


Never did we expect what we were in for. As daylight approached, the storm was already evident. Hurricane Iniki was on its way. A friend, Jim Fuller from Princeville, stopped by to ask if we wanted to ride it out with them or we could evacuate to the Princeville Hotel. No one place was more secure than another so we decided to stay put. We took some precautionary measures by filling the tub with water and taping the widows. Our car was already filled with gas.


By 11 AM the wind was howling ominously. By 12 or so, it sounded like a freight train. We watched as Iniki whipped the trees and diced the leaves into confetti, decoupaging them to the windows and walls of the house. We watched the windows and sliding doors of the neighbor’s house burst out one by one. We watched the garage door of the house across the street completely fly off into oblivion. As this was happening, the roofs of several other houses were pealing down to the wood then we could see a whole roof explode away.

During the hurricane:


The rain was blasting on the windows like water from a fire hose, the largest window “breathing” deeply. We thought any moment it would break away under the tremendous force. Water was bubbling up like soda pop under the sliding doors and widows. We worked feverishly sopping up water with bath towels and wringing it into pots, then running back to the bathroom for protection. We could hear the house creak as if the whole second story would blow away.

It went on like this for hours and then suddenly there was an eerie calm. The storm seemed to have stopped. We could look up and see blue sky — we were in the eye of the hurricane!

Satalite shot of Hurricane Iniki:

It seemed a moment, and then from the opposite direction, the wind started to blow at an even more furious pace, this time attacking the side of the house with the most widows. We opened the windows on the other side of the house to equalize the pressure. We checked the garage. The garage door had started to buckle. We shored it up with 2 by 4’s. The storm seemed ruthlessly unending. After six hours of wind and water crashing on us it died down to a mere howl.


We had prayed often during those six hours. However, it wasn’t until the next morning that we realized the extent of the devastation. All the trees next to Cathy’s house had turned into broken sticks, with one having fallen onto the house next door. Only two houses away the whole second story of the house was gone.


The aftermath Nothing worth dying for Interiors by Iniki:

The main beam of the roof from one house down the street had gone through the living room of another home a block away. The Fuller’s house was completely destroyed. The Princeville Hotel had sustained major damage, as well as our condo on the beach and the Kapaa school. We heard the Westin suffered millions of dollars in damage. More was destroyed than left standing. One person showed us the remains of a tree that the 160 mile-an-hour wind had turned into a spear with it piercing through the back of their car.


Telephone poles were snapped along with power poles making travel impossible. Cars were lifted and rolled like toys. Through it all, Cathy’s house was, for the most part, unscathed. However, there was no water, electricity, or communication. After three days of this, we were more than ready to come home. Our only way off the island was by military transport to Honolulu.


Reaching Honolulu, it was so good to one again see trees with leaves on them, and real city lights. And WATER — I must have taken the longest shower of my life. I don’t mind extended vacations but this was not the way. This time I was really glad to come home and thankful that I had a home to come to. Through it all, the people on the island were good to us, sharing what they had. My heart goes out to them in their devastation. We will never forget them nor the honeymoon we shared the Hurricane Iniki.

In 1997 five years since that experience.The whole island has been completely restored. In fact, all of the Hotels, Condos and Homes have been completely refurbished and everything is better than before because everything is brand new! The foliage has come back greener and stronger than ever. If you had never been to Kauai before, you would never know what happened during the Honeymoon with a Hurricane!