A Month for Disaster

There is a meme running around that relates all too well at the moment…

Smoke Over Waikoloa
Smoke from an approaching wildfire stains the skies over Waikoloa

Worst month ever!
What do you mean this is only the 1st?

Anonymous social media meme

This month is only four days old and we are quite ready to agree with whomever coined that meme.

Sunday, August first started out peaceful enough. I was looking forward to a relaxing day with a few chores about the house. The only nagging worry was keeping tabs on the large brushfire raging towards Waimea, though it was many miles away. As the winds picked up this worry also intensified, to where I had to the local emergency radio feed streaming on the computer speakers.

When the fragmentary radio chatter from the fire units indicated that the fire had jumped Highway 130 I knew what was coming next… An evacuation of Waikoloa Village.

Sure enough, the evacuation notices quickly arrived and we started packing the vehicles. Irreplaceable keepsakes, the photos, a handmade telescope, key documents, just what would fit into our two vehicles packed over the next hour. Removing a a cedar paddle from the wall, carved by my father, drove home how much could be lost if we lose the house, how much I could not pack.

As I placed the first cat carrier in the car the police squad car stopped out front, “Sir, are you evacuating?” echoed from the PA system.

“Just let me pack the second cat!” I called back

I really didn’t. I sent Deb and the cats out of the village and went to help at a friend’s house before I finally left.

Looking back over Waikoloa to the wildfire
Looking back over Waikoloa to the wildfire as I left the village

Our two inside cats were in carriers, our third semi-adopted stray was not. I had just dumped her into my vehicle, where she promptly disappeared into the fully packed SUV. Meeting my wife at the resort shopping center below the village we took a moment to look for her. After unpacking a few crates we find her while peering underneath everything with a flashlight. This little cat was curled up under the primary mirror of my 18″ telescope. Unable to coax her out she would spend the next day curled up in there until we returned home.

A few text messages secured us a place to stay with a friend and we spent a fairly comfortable night in the rainforest above Kaloko listening to a chorus of coqui frogs. The evacuation order was lifted in the night and we returned to the house with the stress and impact of the whole event slowly sinking in.

The Mana Road Fire is now officially the largest wildfire in the island’s history. Considering wildfires are common on the west side grasslands this is rather surprising. At least the local fire departments are well equipped and experienced in wildfire suppression.

The fire continues to smolder with army Blackhawks dropping water on hot-spots, the winds continue to gust, but the bulldozed fire breaks are holding.

Next?

A hour into work this morning and our CEO, a lady I work with directly, often face-to-face, sends a message that she has tested positive for SARS-CoV-2. The work day slammed to an immediate halt as we all agree to head home and not to return to work until we get a negative test. Back to remote, I spend some of the day writing safety procedures.

Before leaving work I had logged into my health care provider and arranged for a drive-through test at the local clinic to get swabbed. Fortunately I got a testing appointment with 30 minutes notice, hopefully to have results tomorrow afternoon.

Next?

It is only the fourth.

Author: Andrew

An electrical engineer, amateur astronomer, and diver, living and working on the island of Hawaiʻi.

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