All the recent news coverage of Hurricane Harvey as it strikes and stalls over Texas have brought my thoughts back to November 1982.
I grew up on an island on the east coast. Hurricanes were a thing that I experienced often as a child. These were storms that gave you plenty of warning and preparation time. High winds and rain. Boats had to be secured or moved, windows were boarded if necessary and you hunkered down for days at a time. The Navy moved me to Florida and Hawaii which remained in my “comfort” storm zone. When my oldest daughter Aubrae was a toddler, we rode out Hurricane Iwa (pronounced Eva) in base housing on the Island of Oahu. This was the nastiest hurricane I had ever been through. It headed our way as a tropical storm on the Thursday before Thanksgiving, which was really out of the hurricane season. Once we were sure the storm would be upgraded, the base I was stationed on, Barbers Point NAS, went into full alert. I was an air traffic controller, but the field was closed except for Coast Guard and emergency Army aircraft. Anyone not needed in the tower was used to taxi aircraft to the hangers and tie down the ones left on the ramps. We were busy until Monday getting all that completed and the windows boarded up. When we were off duty, everybody helped each family get our own windows covered. In the housing unit I lived in, we had the washer and dryer outside on the lania (which was an open porch under a roof). This meant we had to build a temporary cover to keep out the wind and rain.
The tropical storm was upgraded to a hurricane and hit us hard on Tuesday of Thanksgiving week. It was the costliest hurricane to ever hit Hawaii. We had a day and a half of sustained winds of 100 mph, with gusts of 120 mph and 30 ft. seas. Again, for extreme emphasis, A DAY AND A HALF! We tucked ourselves in a little room we had under the stairway. We set up a makeshift bed in there and tried to make a game of it, so Aubrae didn’t get bored or scared. Four people died and 500 were homeless. President Reagan declared us a disaster area. Our house escaped with very little damage. We were lucky to be right across the street from a huge sugar cane field, so there were a lot of cane branches to clean up, but not much other damage. The best memory I have is from the loss of electricity. We were out for eight days and this made for one of the best Thanksgivings we ever had. The housing unit we lived in was six two story houses linked together. We all had food to use before it spoiled, so on Wednesday night we fired up the six Weber grills out front and started our attempt at making pies for the big day. There was a small learning curve, but by the end of the evening we had six pies that Martha Stewart would have been proud of. The next day we had turkeys in some of the cookers and vegetables casseroles in the rest. We pushed together four of the picnic tables we had and set a great table and had a lot to be thankful for. One of the guys put it best when he was saying our prayer. He said that we were thankful for being brought through the storm and for God helping us to see how the pilgrims must have felt at the first Thanksgiving, cooking this great meal together, over open fires, with no running water, indoor plumbing or electricity.