HONOLULU (AP) – Hurricane Douglas joined a long list of storms that came near the Hawaiian Islands but did not cause major damage.
The Mayor of Kauai, Derek Kawakami, said that such experiences unfortunately help people to be complacent and think disasters will never strike them.
“What we are really worried about is Nature – there is no way you can control it. And once he decided not to send a message but it really had an impact on our island, it will happen when certain people take it lightly,” Kawakami said.
Douglas passes about 45 miles (72 kilometers) north of Maui and may even be closer to Oahu as a Category 1 storm on Sunday.
Although there were previous warnings that Douglas could pass directly through the islands, surfers hit the waves and selfie-takers flocked to the coastline on Oahu.
Chaney Borja went hiking with his adult son in hopes of seeing the waterfall. He chose a ridge where there was flat ground and where he felt he would not be hurt. He also tracks the rain on the radar.
He said people on Oahu keep food, water and supplies but also like to use the opportunity provided by the storm to see big waves in places where there are usually no waves.
“One day we will not take it seriously and will only hit and we will not be ready for it,” Borja said. “And yes, we buy everything, but we still go in the direction of the storm.”
Kawakami said that Kauai’s history of being hit by a huge storm and flooding had left a strong impression on the islanders who took the weather threat seriously.
“Even people who are relatively migrants, in a sense will hear local knowledge, will see people getting ready. And they will only follow, “Kawakami said.
In 1992, Hurricane Iniki damaged or destroyed 41 percent of the island’s homes. Just two years ago, torrential rain triggered a landslide that cut off entire communities on the northern coast of Kauai for months.
Talmadge Magno, civil defense administrator for the County of Hawaii, said he thought most people heeded warnings and would not test nature.
He said Hurricane Douglas offered residents a way to learn how they could do a better job getting ready for such a storm.
“I think this is a good test for the community as well to see where they are in preparedness,” he said.
Meteorologists say that Douglas would be far worse in Hawaii if he was tracked only 20 or 30 miles (32 to 48 kilometers) to the south.
“Not only does it not make landings, it surrounds the islands,” said the National Weather Service meteorologist Chevy Chevalier.
Rarely there are storms that hit islands that are relatively small compared to the extent of the Pacific Ocean.
“You won’t see them being beaten that often,” Chevalier said.
Oahu does not receive much rainfall, but heavy rains and winds hit Maui, uprooting a small tree on the Hana Highway.
Duke Stevens, who lives in Hana at the eastern end of Maui, said there was no more wind on Sunday afternoon and the light rain that kept falling all night subsided.
“I have seen far worse,” said Stevens, who has lived in Maui since 1987.
Antonia Hall, from the city of Kihei in western Maui, said she brought her patio furniture inside, bought food that didn’t last long and filled up her bath tub for emergency water supplies, but storms avoided the area.
“Maui has circled so many storms,” he said. “It’s kind of something we’ve been through here.”
Associated Press journalist Mark Thiessen in Anchorage, Alaska, Brian PD Hannon in Phoenix, and Julie Walker in New York contributed to this report.
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