face Ivan head-on
Two Hawaii expatriates, who moved to Mobile, Ala., from Kaneohe nearly two years ago, have decided to ride out Hurricane Ivan last night despite reports that the eye of the storm will be right over the Alabama city.
"We feel like we have bulls-eyes on our forehead," said Wendy James who with her husband, Bill, own and operate the Kate Shephard House Bread and Breakfast -- a 107-year-old home in Mobile's historic downtown district two miles from Mobile Bay.
Bill James was an architect in Honolulu for 15 years.
"We went through a lot anguish," Wendy James said, "whether to leave or stay.
"We even got a phone call from a friend in Guam who has gone through several typhoons and his advise was 'run.'
"In the end we realized it's going to be scary, but we're going to hunker down and ride it out...The bottom line is that this our home and we are going to stay."
By mid-afternoon James said that more than 50 percent of her neighbors have left the area.
"It's very eerie," she said. "It's very quiet. There is no traffic...It's actually very nice and breezy -- just light wind and light rain."
The eye of the storm is supposed to be over Mobile Bay at 1 today morning, James said.
"We are just beginning to feel the affects of the hurricane with winds starting to pick up at 40 miles per hour. We've been monitoring the weather reports and the winds are expected to be as high as 140 to 150 miles per hour."
James said C.M. Shephard built the Queen Anne home in 1897 and in 1910 his daughter, Kate, used it as a private boarding and day school for prominent Mobile children.
The James live in one of six bedrooms and rent out two others.
"It's a stunning house," James said. "There is a lot of beautiful stained glass and we boarded up as much as we could."
James said it was hard to leave the house since there was "so many antiques and artifacts that we couldn't take all of them."
There also were concerns of looting and not knowing when they would be able to return to their home once the hurricane had passed through Mobile, James said.
In 1992, James said she left Louisiana just before Hurricane Andrew hit only to face the effects of Hurricane Iniki where she lived in Kaneohe.
Her husband, Bill, was involved in the construction of Harbor Court, One Archer Lane, Honolulu Park Place and Chinatown Gateway Park.
BACK TO TOP
Four Hawaii guests
get away from
Big Easy on last flight
Four Hawaii residents who faced the possibility of being stranded in New Orleans as Hurricane Ivan came ashore escaped last night on the last flight out.
The four arrived in Louisiana Tuesday not knowing that the National Jaycees Convention they had gone to attend had been canceled while they were en route.
People were fleeing town while they checked into their hotel. They faced the possibility of riding out Hurricane Ivan in a hotel room.
Stan Fichtman, spokesman for the Hawaii Jaycees, said yesterday morning the four were able to get the last Continental Airlines flight out of New Orleans late Tuesday night and arrived in Houston yesterday morning.
"They called at 2:30 this morning just after they landed in Houston," Fichtman said, "to tell me they got out. They apparently spent the night negotiating with the airline to get out.
"They are deciding what to do next."
The four-member delegation included: Jon Nishihara, president of the Hawaii Jaycees; Marcus Pang, Hawaii Jaycees Community Development vice president; Bobbie Agpoa; and Elisa Ritua.
Last night before he left Nishihara told the Star-Bulletin: "Everyone is trying to evacuate the area. On TV, the mayor of New Orleans is advising all citizens and visitors to leave and we've been trying to get out, but we can't get a flight."
Nishihara said his delegation was not alone and that other convention attendees from all over the country were stuck because there were no flights out of town. Nishihara said, thankfully, their hotel was still open and they had somewhere to stay.
Roughing it out may not have been so bad, however. Although stores were closed with sandbags blocking the door, it appears Bourbon Street remained open to all those who still wanted a taste of cajun nightlife before Ivan came into town.
"The bars and clubs and music places are still open," Pang said last night. "I guess nothing stops those guys."
Fichtman said the National Jaycees is contemplating re-scheduling the convention for mid-October, returning to New Orleans, if it survives Ivan, or holding it at Tulsa, Okla.