As I type this, I’m sitting in our living room, two dogs nestled on either side of me, and staring out our windows at a remarkably blue sky.
It’s hard to believe that, just a few minutes ago, the Central Pacific Hurricane Center upgraded Hurricane Lane to a dangerous Category 5 storm with sustained winds up to 160 miles per hour. And it’s heading directly toward us.
I’ve heard forecasters say this hurricane is traveling along a similar path as Iniki, the most powerful (and devastating) hurricane to hit the Hawaiian Islands in recorded history. When it struck O‘ahu and Kaua‘i in 1992, it had winds of 145 miles per hour. A Category 4 hurricane. Lane already seems worse.
It’s a funny thing, this hurricane. Maybe I’ve been numbed by news of disaster — remember the false ballistic missile alert? — or I’ve been unusually busy lately — I decided to teach a college-level journalism class this semester in addition to my day job at HONOLULU Magazine — but I just haven’t wholly embrace this whole hurricane thing.
Growing up in Hawai‘i, hurricanes happen — and they rarely hit us like this. In my lifetime, there have only been two significant hurricanes — Iniki in 1992 and Iwa in 1982 — and both times I didn’t experience the brunt of it. Our house was fine, the roof stayed put, no trees fell, no patio furniture went flying, the electricity eventually returned and life went on, at least for me. I remember staying home from school during Iwa and playing board games by candlelight. And I can’t remember what I did during Iniki; that’s how unmemorable it was for me.
But this one already seems different. Maybe because I’m a mom now, I don’t live my parents (whose job it was to protect me from natural disasters), I’m inundated with news more than ever before, and I live in a house with huge plate-glass windows that are, as I write this, freaking me out. All I can think about is, “Am I ready?”
I’ve seen social media posts showing empty shelves at Costco, Target, the commissary. I’ve driven past the long lines at gas stations. I’ve already braved Safeway today, only to stand in a line that was snaking down the frozen food aisle, with worried shoppers stocking up on bottled water, toilet paper, canned goods and beer.
I remember walking outside, pushing my cart filled with probably all the wrong things (everything was perishable and I forgot to grab bottled water), and noticing how still the air was, how perfect of an afternoon, how it seemed virtually impossible that, in less than 24 hours, the Islands would be inundated with life-threatening rain and wind.
But it’s so nice out!
Panic started to hit me at around 5:45 p.m. For no real reason except the house was quiet and I had time to think. I started to search the house for supplies. (Thank God I went to Costco this weekend.) We’re good on toilet paper and batteries, we have flashlights ready to go, we did laundry on Sunday, I charged all of my devices and I have at least two unopened bags of chips and five bottles of wine. Hurricane preparedness complete.
But something is twisting in my gut. I know, as I watch the sun disappear and the skies darken, something bad is coming. I may be prepared with supplies, but I’m definitely not emotionally ready for this.