Hurricane Iniki was the most destructive hurricane to hit the islands of Hawaii over this century and is the third in the U.S. history to be the most damaging. It hit the islands of Hawaii on September 11, 1992. It was during the 1991-1994 El Nino that hurricanes such as Iniki were formed along the Central Pacific. This strong hurricane was categorized by the Saffir-Simpson scale as a level 4 hurricane.
At 2 pm a day before it hit the islands, NWS issued a warning that Iniki would cross the Hawaiian Islands but in just a few hours concerns over Iniki increased drastically. By 8:30 pm, warnings for the Hurricane Iniki were announced over Kaua’i, O’ahu and nearby islands. At 5 in the morning of September 11, 1992, the residents of Oahu woke up due to sounds of sirens and alarmed at the hurricane that fallen on their island. By afternoon, Iniki moved towards Kauai with wind speeds of 130 mph and 160 mph gusts. Tides reached 6 feet more than normal and 35 feet waves which destroyed the southern Kauai’s coastal area. Kauai had been damaged severely on its north, east and south sides.
It was estimated that hurricane Iniki caused over $1.8 billion in damages and claimed 6 lives. It sets a record for being one of the costliest hurricanes in the United States. What’s worse, hurricane Iniki struck just weeks after hurricane Andrew wrecked havoc in the states of Florida. The impact of hurricane Iniki in Hawaii was phenomenal. It made the most damage in Kaua’I where it destroyed many houses. O’ahu was also heavily damaged by Iniki.
After the storm subsided, people were relieved and happy to have survived such a devastating hurricane. With no power supply, people had no method of getting outside information for days. Because of lack of electricity, food source became a problem. Perishable goods were consumed by the community and food markets offered help to the locals. Surprisingly, looting was minor and didn’t cause a problem.
With the extent of damage caused by hurricane Iniki, many had offered financial help so the islands of Hawaii affected can recover and be back to normal. Concerts were organized to raise funds for the devastation of Iniki. After several years, Kauai slowly recovered and tourism regained speed slowly but substantially.
As an added effect, many wild chickens started roaming the island of Kaua’I and many people believed that this is because the hurricane blew the domestic chicken coops where fighting cocks had been freed.
Hurricane Iniki was the strongest category 4 hurricane and its devastation marked permanently on the minds of the survivors especially in Kauai’I and O’ahu. It gained its strength and intensity during the El Niño which means that more hurricanes and tropical storms affect the Pacific than the Caribbean Sea, Atlantic and the Gul of Mexico.