Katrina a reminder
of need to stay alert


Hurricane Katrina smashed into the Gulf Coast with the same strength as Hurricane Iniki struck Kauai 13 years ago.

HAWAII has been spared a hurricane since Iniki struck Kauai on Sept. 11, 1992, but Hurricane Katrina's pounding of the Gulf Coast is a frightening reminder of the catastrophe that a direct hit can cause. The state and counties are better prepared than then, and each hurricane, wherever it occurs, is a reminder of the importance of such readiness.

While Iniki and Katrina were about the same in strength when they struck land -- Category 4, with winds of about 140 mph -- the difference in destruction was huge. That is due largely to the vast area of populated land, including metropolitan areas, bearing the brunt of Katrina.

Damage caused by Iniki was estimated at $3 billion, while insurers estimate that Katrina's damage could reach $28 billion. In Kauai, 7,000 people were left homeless, but the number could exceed a million from Florida to Louisiana. Two fatalities resulted from Iniki. The death toll from Katrina could reach into the thousands.

The effects on Kauai's economy were severe. In the year before Iniki, 1.23 million visitors were counted on the Garden Isle. Six years would pass before the figure returned to 1 million.

Following Iniki, the state adopted new building standards, requiring double-wall construction and ground-to-roof metal ties for new and extensively rebuilt homes. Insurance companies stopped providing hurricane coverage for homes and resorts for five years following Iniki, forcing the state to create a Hurricane Relief Fund to ensure continued coverage. The fund, totaling $191 million, no longer takes in money or issues insurance.

State legislators approved a bill this year to take $8 million from the fund to pay for disaster preparedness items and provide grants to homeowners to upgrade their homes. Governor Lingle wisely vetoed the bill, pointing out that the $6 million in interest generated by the fund already is transferred to the state's general fund. The windy-day fund itself should not be reduced.

In one area, Hawaii is less prepared for a hurricane than it was 13 years ago. National Guard members helped respond to Iniki by providing assistance to civilians, as nearly 11,000 National Guardsmen are providing in the Gulf Coast. Plans to augment the effort with Guard members from across the mainland are expected to increase that figure to 20,000 by the end of this weekend.

All but a few of Hawaii's 3,000 Army National Guard members are now in Iraq and Afghanistan. Hawaii would need to rely on the state's 2,500 Air National Guard members to help respond to a hurricane.


Hawaii’s generosity
needed once again


President Bush has recruited his father and former President Clinton to head the drive to raise funds for victims of Hurricane Katrina.

AMERICANS have begun an effort to help victims of Hurricane Katrina as they responded to the tsunami that struck South Asia last December. First Hawaiian Bank is in the forefront of the efforts in Hawaii, accepting donations to the American Red Cross and the Salvation Army. Hawaii residents should demonstrate the same benevolence to natural disaster victims in America as they have shown to victims of catastrophes abroad.

In the days following Katrina, the Red Cross collected $1 million. The U.S. Chamber of Commerce reported that initial corporate contributions could exceed $100 million, including $5 million from Chevron Corp. Several companies are donating equipment and goods to the effort. President Bush has recruited his father and former President Bill Clinton to head the fund-raising drive, as they did in the aftermath of the tsunami.

America's private contributions to the tsunami victims totaled $580 million, including $2.6 million from Hawaii. One-third of American households say they donated money to tsunami relief, and their generosity is needed again. They should make their tax-deductible donations payable to the Salvation Army Katrina Disaster Fund or American Red Cross Hurricane 2005 Relief Fund. They can be made at any of First Hawaiian's 61 branches.

Oahu Publications, Inc. publishes
the Honolulu Star-Bulletin, MidWeek
and military newspapers


David Black, Dan Case, Dennis Francis,
Larry Johnson, Duane Kurisu, Warren Luke,
Colbert Matsumoto, Jeffrey Watanabe, Michael Wo

Dennis Francis, Publisher Lucy Young-Oda, Assistant Editor
(808) 529-4762
Frank Bridgewater, Editor
(808) 529-4791
Michael Rovner, Assistant Editor
(808) 529-4768

Mary Poole, Editorial Page Editor
(808) 529-4748; mpoole@starbulletin.com

The Honolulu Star-Bulletin (USPS 249460) is published daily by
Oahu Publications at 500 Ala Moana Blvd., Suite 7-500, Honolulu, Hawaii 96813.
Periodicals postage paid at Honolulu, Hawaii. Postmaster: Send address changes to
Star-Bulletin, P.O. Box 3080, Honolulu, Hawaii 96802.

| | |
E-mail to Editorial Page Editor

© Honolulu Star-Bulletin -- https://archives.starbulletin.com