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August 6, 2014 - Harry Eagar
It is amusing to watch Mauians, even newcomers, rushing to stock up on rice and toilet paper in anticipation of storms Iselle and Julio.
Buying bottled water makes no sense either.
Batteries, yes. Tank of gas? Half a tank ought to be plenty for most people. Cash? Maybe, where are you going that you will be spending money? If it really does rain 4 to 8 inches Thursday and maybe again Sunday, I am not going anywhere except in an emergency. Nor will I be calling for pizza delivery.
It's been over 20 years since we've experienced a big storm and nearly that long since even a moderately big one. With a population turnover in the neighborhood of 4% a year, probably half the people on Maui (not counting the tourists) have never been through even the outliers of a hurricane.
Stocking up on TP has more to do with memories -- second hand at that for most people -- of dock strikes over 60 years ago. Distribution methods have changed a lot since, and a TP or rice famine is hard to take seriously now.
But rushing to the stores to stock up doesn't hurt anybody and probably has more to do with socializing than real preparedness. It gives people a chance to ask each other if they are being prudent and to reassure themselves that, 1) it won't be that bad; and 2) they've done what they can (short of offering a bed indoors to a homeless person, something I haven't seen or heard any concern about, although the shelterless are one group that could have a rough time even if Iselle arrives as nothing much more than a winter windstorm).
Sustained winds of 55 mph, if that's what we are going to get, are no scarier than the usual winter nights where I live (Makawao), where 60 is common.
Should either storm turn out much worse than current forecasts (always possible, remember that the Butterfly Effect means that forecasts more than 5 days out are pretty much imaginary), or if you have the rotten luck to have a tree fall on your car in even a moderate blow, make sure your insurer will honor its contract.
After Iniki, a lot of people on Kauai and Oahu got stiffed. Amongst all the precautions I have seen being passed around, no one has mentioned that one.
And bottled water. Fill a jug from the faucet. County water is just fine.
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