Last week featured three large events in three different life categories – Personal, Statewide Severe Weather, and State Political Shifts. In chronological order:
Tuesday – Personal
A few weeks ago I went to the optometrist for my annual check-up. I was hoping for a stronger glasses prescription. Little did I know, what my eyes were up to. Unbeknownst to me, both my eyes had developed narrow angles, which can be a precursor to glaucoma, which can lead to blindness. Eye fluid drains from the outer corner of the eye. If the angle closes, the eye can’t drain. Pressure builds up within the eye. Glaucoma reduces vision and can lead to blindness. Not good.
The cure: Laser Iridotomy
An ophthalmologist uses a laser to make a small opening in the eye’s iris. This allows fluid to flow freely and hopefully will reduce pressure within the eye.
I had the procedure last Tuesday. Fingers crossed all will be well. I don’t particularly want to be a “one-eyed” writer.
Friday – Statewide Severe Weather
While I was fretting about my upcoming Laser Iridotomy, meteorologists at NOAA were tracking Hurricane Iselle as she crossed the Central Pacific on her way to Hawai`i. Just behind, Julio was building hurricane force winds.
By Wednesday, local television stations and civil defense authorities urged us to be prepared. They’d been saying this for a while, but somehow when they said it on Wednesday, people paid attention. Forecasts projected Iselle would hit the Big Island, and no one was sure what Julio had in mind. Thursday, controlled madness broke out. The Governor and County Mayors hunkered down where they could monitor the situation. Bottled water sold out quickly. People stocked up on vital canned goods – Spam, Vienna sausage, and anything else one could consume in the event of a power outage. Folks topped up their gas tanks. And for some reason, whenever potential disaster looms, we buy toilet paper. I think that’s left over from the 1949-dock strike.
This compulsion to keep the pantry full is based on a fundamental fact of life on an island. When hurricanes or tsunamis strike, no one knows how long the docks and airports will be closed. Almost everything we use comes from out of state.
Iselle made landfall on East Hawai`i, dumping heavy rain and winds along the Hamakua Coast. Flooding, ocean surge, and brown water affects the entire coastline, but the heaviest damage is in Puna, the area south of Hilo. It will take approximately three weeks for power to be restored in the worst hit areas. Actual landfall occurred near Ka`u. Iselle proceeded over Mauna Kea to the western side of the island and on up the island chain. Maui suffered damage, but Honolulu was spared. We are blessed.
When I started thinking about this blog, I did some research on the three previous hurricanes that struck Hawai`i. All took out their force on Kaua`i to the north. Dot arrived in 1959;
Hurricane `Iwa, 1982
Hurricane `Iniki, 1992
Saturday – Statewide Political Shifts
While we prepared for Hurricane Iselle, we also wondered what would happen in the Primary Elections scheduled for Saturday, the day after the storm hit. Would polling places be open? Would Governor Abercrombie, candidate for re-election in the Democratic Primary, gain an advantage from hurricane-related briefings? Would people vote early? Would they vote at all?
As things turned out, the election went ahead as scheduled, except for two polling stations on the Big Island. Voters in those areas will receive ballots by mail. So, final results won’t be in for a few weeks. This particularly impacts the Democratic election for U.S. Senator. Colleen Hanabusa is challenging Brian Schatz, the incumbent.
The latest election tally on Hawaii News Now shows the candidates in a dead heat, each with 49 percent of the vote. The numbers tell a different story. Schatz presently leads with 113,800 votes against Hanabusa’s 112,165. The voters in the two Puna districts will decide the outcome. It’s the most exciting election we’ve had in years!
The governor’s race was a complete upset. Neil Abercrombie, a man who has been in Hawai`i politics since 1975, is the first Democratic governor in Hawai`i to be defeated in his run for re-election. Abercrombie received 37 percent of the vote. His challenger, David Ige, swept the election with 67 percent. It’s one of those unprecedented events that happen every once in a while. The kind that makes you think voters really do have a voice.
So, what do laser iridotomy eye surgery, Hurricane Iselle, and Hawai`i Primary Elections have in common? Not much. But here’s the thing. Each represents the result of people working together for the benefit of others whether it’s researchers committed to reducing the incidence of blindness; scientists, newscasters, civil defense and communities working together in response to natural disasters; or voters getting to the polls to support the person they think will best represent their neighborhood.
To quote an Inspiration I first heard at a Rotary Meeting:
I am only one, but still I am one.
I cannot do everything, but still I can do something;
and because I cannot do everything,
I will not refuse to do something that I can do.
— Helen Keller
For More Information:
Featured Image: Hurricane Iselle on Aug. 7, 2014
On Laser Iridotomy Web MD.
Primary Election Results. Hawaii News Now. Accessed Aug. 11, 2014
Hawai`i Hurricane History. Hawaii News Now.
Abercrombie Becomes First Governor to Lose a Reelection Primary. Hawaii News Now.
Sandra Wagner-Wright holds the doctoral degree in history and taught women’s and global history at the University of Hawai`i. Sandra travels for her research, most recently to Salem, Massachusetts, the setting of her new Salem Stories series. She also enjoys traveling for new experiences. Recent trips include Antarctica and a river cruise on the Rhine from Amsterdam to Basel.
Sandra particularly likes writing about strong women who make a difference. She lives in Hilo, Hawai`i with her family and writes a blog relating to history, travel, and the idiosyncrasies of life.