Memories of Hurricane Iniki still fresh for many as 25th anniversary approaches

Monday marks the 25th anniversary of Hurricane Iniki.

On Sept. 11, 1992, the category 4 storm hit, devastating Kauai and causing major damage on Oahu’s Waianae coast.

For one resident who lived through it, watching what’s happening in Florida as Hurricane Irma approaches hits incredibly close to home.

Although it’s been nearly a quarter of a century, Dickie Chang says for him, and most everyone else who lived through the storm, the memories are vivid, and concern for those now facing a similar fate is overwhelming.

“The problem is once everything is all said and done, this type of magnitude, of this type of distraction, takes years and years and years and years to recover,” Chang said.

Chang worked as the head concierge at the former Westin resort near the airport. He remembers all too well the sound and fury of the coming storm.

For Garden Isle residents, there was no evacuation.

“Being on an island like Kauai, we had no choice,” Chang said. “You had no help and for the record, as you know, once the winds hit 60 mph and the electricity went out, there was absolutely no clue we were going to take a direct hit.”

Although at the time it seemed to last forever, Chang now remembers the storm itself as a brief moment in time.

It’s the days, months, and years after that tell the true story of Iniki.

“The aftermath is things that people don’t even think about, and the aftermath is devastating,” Chang said. “It just is not rebuilt the way you wish it would rebuild.”

The Central Pacific Hurricane Center says the path Iniki took was the worst possible. Six deaths were connected to storm, which also caused nearly $3 billion worth of damage.

More than 14,000 homes were damaged or destroyed. Much of the island was left without power for more than a month.

“A lot of people say, ‘I wish I could have been there for the hurricane. That would have been really cool,'” Chang said. “Well the couple of hours that you see devastation is Mother Nature at its worst, but when you see the aftermath of rebuilding, no water, no electricity, and sorrow and devastation and drama and domestics, whatever you want to call it, it’s a major stress factor on any human being — and I say that because nobody would know how to prepare.”

 

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