I suffer from PISS — Post Iniki Stress Syndrome, so aptly coined by my friend who rode out Hurricane Iniki with me on September 11, 1992 here on Kauai. It was a Force 5 hurricane, as direct a hit as one tiny island could take. NOAA has said it is the most powerful hurricane ever recorded in the Eastern Pacific . We hunkered down in our strong post-and-beam home, built with intention, love and hundreds of hurricane clips. We survived relatively unscathed when our island was utterly devastated and thousands lost everything. The basic infrastructure of the island was destroyed — no water for a week, no phones for two months and no electricity for three months. The storm shook me to my very core. To this day, winds blowing over 15mph or so make me uncomfortable.
But, I must say, ignorance is bliss. In those years, we had no television and no internet in our home. So, the first we heard of the storm was pre-dawn when that same friend who told me we have PISS, woke us up to say there was a storm on the way. It being my daughter’s 6th birthday, she and I were both in denial. My friend, however, originally a native of New Orleans, brilliantly ignored my pollyanna attitude and took our van and was first in line when day broke to get plywood to board us up. I remain grateful to her to this day. Nowadays, thanks to the internet and social media, I have known about the two hurricanes swirling out in the Pacific and contemplating their track towards the Hawaiian Islands, for days and days. Days and days that I have been been in active anticipatory anxiety. I know there is nothing I can do. I am prepared, at least in a practical fashion—plywood on hand, plenty of food, containers for water, etc. But, practical is not what rules my stomach, which has been swirling as much as these two storms.
So, I compulsively check the NOAA website, watching and praying for a downgrade, a change in course, anything to indicate we won’t be slammed this week. All the while, knowing how fickle these fits of nature are. Yup, I am a PISS sufferer and that’s my story. If you are so inclined, picture these two storms, Iselle and Julio, being non-events in my life and the life of precious Kauai. If you pray–please start immediately.