Hurricane Iniki was the most powerful hurricane in recent memory to hit the Hawaiian Islands. These links on the Internet from around the world reminds us of what impact the day September 11, 1992 had for the people on Kauai and throughout Hawaii.
Many of the links here are broken. I've updated as many as I could and left the original links as a record. Feel free to contact me if you've updated your URL.
The "Hurricane Hunters" 815th Weather Recon Squadron (USAFRes), Keesler AFB, MS (since redesignated 53rd Weather Reconnaissance Squadron (USAFRes) ) sent three WC-130H weather aircraft and a maintenance team to monitor Hurricane Iniki. After a layover at Norton AFB, CA, the first aircraft arrived at Iniki when it was due south of Hawaii and just started to turn north. The aircrafts flew through the eye of the storm, taking measurements and observations, then landed at Hickam Air Force base to prepare for the next reconnaissance flight.
At 2:00 pm Thursday afternoon, September 10, 1992, the National Weather Service had issued a bulletin indicating that Iniki would bypass the Hawaiian Islands. The situation changed from one of a calm setting to one of concern literally in a matter of hours. By 5:30 pm, a hurricane watch was issued for Kauai and Niihau. By 8:30 pm, it had turned to hurricane warnings. People that were alert started to make preparations.
Kauai Civil Defense administrator Cayetano Sonny Gerardo recalled Mayor JoAnn Yukimura and CD Agency Plans & Operations Officer from Honolulu to Kauai by arranging for a flight home. No commercial airlines were in operations at that late hour and therefore coordination with the Hawaii Air National Guard was necessary.
The WC-130H aircrafts were relocated from Hickam AFB to Hilo Airport.
Hans Rosendal, the lead forecaster at the National Weather Service Honolulu office has a synopsis of the storm's development and progress. Spawned during an El Nino year, the details on Iniki's path outlined in the 1992 Tropical Cyclone Summary shows Iniki (satellite photo) forming over warm equatorial water, deflected by the normal high pressure system to the northeast, swinging northward as it was drawn into a low pressure system that formed north of the Hawaiian Islands. Diagrams from SOEST (School of Ocean Engineering Science and Technology, University of Hawaii at Manoa) contrasts the path of Iniki to the paths of other hurricanes in the Central Pacific area.
At 5:30 am Friday morning, Oahu residents awoke to the sounds of sirens. Joe Dellinger offers insight into what the mad rush for the stores was like on Oahu right after the sirens sounded. Many vacationers on Kauai changed their plans to depart immediately. A report by ABC Consulting shows the path of Hurricane Iniki took right over Kekaha, smashing Waimea with punishing winds.
Amateur radio played an important role in keeping active communications between Kauai and Oahu during the peak of Hurricane Iniki. The microwave antenna dishes providing telephone communications between the islands fell or were severely damaged by the intense winds. Cut off from the rest of the world, it would be many hours before Kauai's on-island and inter-island phone service was restored. Critical communications provided by amateur radio and Civil Air Patrol jump-started the recovery and relief efforts. Articles in QST, the Honolulu Star-Bulletin, and WorldRadio highlighted the wide range of activities and contributions made by amateur radio during those critical early hours.
Damage to the island was substantial, including a recount of the wind, wave and flooding in the Lawai-Poipu area. An analysis by T. Theodore Fujita shows the effects of "spin-up vortices" which added to the already high wind speeds. The Hanapepe First United Church of Christ lost it's facilities and for months worshiped in tents. The line of debris marking the high water mark in Aerial photograph of Poipu Beach clearly shows the impact of the triple threat (strong winds, strong waves and storm surge) had. The debris line is way in-land (towards the bottom of the photo) having crossed the road.
The impact and destruction of Hurricane Iniki can be seen in a well-made commercial documentary videotape from D R & L Video Productions entitled "Iniki; Through The Eyes Of Kauai's People". It has almost an hour long with coverage made from people's camcorder journals. It brings out the incredible power and terror of a hurricane as witnessed by the residents that survived the storm. Hosted by Lee Cataluna, it is one of the first, well-documented hurricanes on video.
People have offered insight with their personal experiences of Iniki. James Cook show us before and after images of his home. An anonymous person shares his rememberances about the helicopter evacuation of the Na Pali coast by Papillon Helicopters. Stephen L. Timberlake writes of his time with Iniki. Ronalene White writes on the tenth anniversary of the storm. BJ and Nancy Nelson from Seattle, WA tells what it is like to spend a peaceful vacation at Princeville only to wind up preparing for a hurricane and dealing the mess of being disrupted afterwards. Based on their experience, they formed TheEpicenter.COM, a business tailored to emergency prepardness. Alistar Paterson gives a good account of the early hours and the recovery.
Elements from the Hawaii National Guard responded. A Hawaii Air National Guard C-130 ferried advanced elements of 2nd Battalion, 299th Infantry Regiment from Hilo to Lihue Airport at first light, Saturday morning. They were soon followed by Delta Company, 1st Battalion, 299th Infantry Regiment from Oahu. They provided support for civil law enforcement authorities and assisted in distributing food and water which was in very short supply immediately after the passing of the hurricane.
Among the other emergency response units and individuals deployed to provide relief and recovery were: Air Mobility Command ,the 60th Air Mobility Wing; 349th AMW squadrons,Travis AFB; 445th Airlift Wing (Associate), Norton, Calif; JITC; I Corps from Fort Lewis; the Quartermaster Corps; U.S. Army Special Operations Forces; California Air National Guard, 2nd Combat Communications Squadron; Orange County DMAT; Michael A. DiSanto; NASA AMES Research Center DART; Carl Levon Kustin; Juan A. Rivera. Equipment from Global Water Technologies, and Yaesu were also used. The USS BELLEAU WOOD (LHA 3), enroute to its new homeport in Sasebo, Japan was diverted to aid in the disaster relief. Contractors included: LeBLANC, HLA. A number of amateur radio operators came from overseas to contribute their time and energies.
Reporters descended onto Kauai to cover the decimation. Mike Gormley, KGMB-TV, Don Knapp, CNN, Tony Russomanno,KPIX-TV, and Gordon Tokumatsu, KCRA-TV were amongst those with Web pages noting their reporting. One of Don Knapp's CNN video reports and a transcript of a CNN report are available.
The US Senate in the 102nd Congress appropriated funds for relief and recovery.
A number of concerts were established to raise funds for the recovery. Graham Nash's wife Susan organized fund raiser concerts on Oahu to aid the folks of Kauai. Others that participated with these Iniki concerts included James Ely, David Kawika Talisman, Bonnie Rait, Crosby, Stills & Nash, Pahinui Brothers, Jimmy Buffet. AT&T sponsored the "Hurricane Relief" benefit concert.
The amount of debris generated from the resulting clean-up was equivalent to 3-5 years worth of trash, and resulted in the construction of a new landfill.
Damage assessments, analysis and summary reports show that Hurricane Iniki was a very potent disaster, costing in excess of $2 billion. The potential impact on Honolulu if it is struck by a hurricane could be as much as $30 billion. Many insurance firms cut back or left the Hawaii market. Because of this, much changes were proposed and took place in the housing insurance market.
A study of the psychological effects of a Iniki survivors suggests a strong need to assess disaster victims for previous trauma experiences and their impact. Yet, not all of Iniki's changes were negative. A few, including this gentleman experienced a positive, life-changing experience.
It was a learning experience for both amateur radio operators and officials, both immediately and in the aftermath. The contributions did not go unnoticed. Congress enacted PUBLIC LAW 103-408 [S.J. Res. 90]; on October 22, 1994 recognizing the contributions that amateur radio operators provided during Hurricane Iniki and to support amateur radio for emergency communications.
The work of the Hawaii National Guard units were recognized by American Hawaii Cruises by rewarding the units with a free luxury cruise aboard one of their liners.
It took less than a year to get the major elements back in working order. Tourism was jump-started with special discount pricing. Today, (1997) Kauai is slowly recovering in the middle of a slow economy. Meanwhile, it keeps its tranquil nature of paradise.
The National Weather Service (NWS) did an assessment of Hurricane Iniki. Among the findings was the reliance on telephone communications and confirmation on the need for mutual coordination amongst many agencies.
James K. Mitchell of Rutgers University gives a good summary of the human impact of Hurricane Iniki.
Urban Survival Stories gives a good lessons learned from Hurricane Iniki.
Museum staff and other professionals worked hard to preserve cultural, museum and other artifacts from exposure and damage. Today, there is an exhibit at Koke'e Natural History Museum preserving the event for the benefit of future generations.
For further references, see these books.
- Mutual Publishing offers a reprint of The Advertiser articles dealing with Iniki in a softcover book.
- Kauai in the Eye of Inikiby Myles Ludwig
- Hurricane Iniki and Iby Bob Ward
- Miracle of Iniki: stories of aloha from the heart of Kaua'i by Anne E. O'Malley are available from Amazon.Com.
The links to web pages containing weather and alert information for Hawaii has moved
to a separate web page as of April 12, 2006. The new location is:
These links to El Nino may be of interest.
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