Still without the basics of power and water, two days after Hurricane Iselle pommeled the Big Island’s East Side; with ice supplies depleted and generators gone; I started calling around to see what I could find. “I’m sorry, we’re sold out,” said the warm, pidginesque voices on the other end of that golden slice of Apple held against my ear; said those loving, giving island angels who are the reason I fell in love with Hawaii and moved to her sacred shores. “I understand. When do you expect more?” “Maybe two or three weeks, brudda, but no can guarantee,” said one of the pidgin-flavored possibilities. I don’t really know why, but I have always found that island dialect comforting, like the soothing voice of my mom while growing up.
So then I called Steve’s Honda. “Aloha,” he said anxiously, probably a victim of the storm himself. “Aloha, do you have any generators left?” “No, I’m so sorry. They all sold out.” “When do you expect to get more?” “Next week Tuesday, maybe, or maybe duh week aftuh. But you in trouble ‘cause dey all spoken fo, and there long waiting list.” I paused momentarily, because that indescribable sense of something called intuition was telling me to explore further. “I’m looking for a really big generator, the biggest you got.” “Hmmm … there is one 12 kilowatt Honda that not spoken fo, and it should be here Tuesday.” “Really? That is wonderful!” Can you put my name on it?” “What yo name?” “Kai” What yo numbuh?” I provided the needed information, and was ready to hang up, but there it was again — that voice in my head. “Are you sure there is nothing left? Remember, I am looking for a big one.” “Ya know, there might be somethin’ … Hold on, let me go take a look.” “Sure, mahalo.” “You must be psychic. We have one Kohler 14 back in dah cornuh, but it is really big, has to be hod-wiyud, is a full-on stand-by unit, and runs on propane.” “Really?” “yeah, it is in its own litto shed and would need a forklift to load and unload her.” “How heavy is it?” “She about 700 pounds.” “Let me talk with my wife and I will call you back in 30 minutes or less. Will you hold it for me for that long?” “Sure Kai.” Since we are planning to upgrade to solar with a generator backup, this generator would be perfect for our immediate needs and long term plans. My wife agreed, and I called him back. “Aloha, this is Kai, I spoke with you regarding the Kohler 14.” “Hi Kai, yup, you duh only one I talked to about it, because I even fogot we had it.” “Great, we will take it. I will check around with friends and arrange for pick-up.” “Now I just wanna make sho you know it has ta be hod wiyud and runs on propane.” “Yes, thank you. That is fine.” “We don’t open ‘til eight, so I will have Terry call you then to do duh phone payment.” “Perfect! Thank you very much! Aloha!”
I started contacting friends regarding the generator pick-up, getting propane, and finding an electrician who would do an emergency hook-up on the Saturday after a hurricane hit. Since we own a hybrid, we were able to charge my MacBook in the AC outlet in our truck, and our iPhones from the USB ports in my Mac or the truck. I first texted those who had checked on me and offered to help — Malu, Sean and Amber, Shanna and Matt, Michelle and Farzin, Sunny, and Shirin. Since the generator is such a behemoth, my first priority was to get that monster from Steve’s to our home. The night before, Malu had told me that if I could find one, she would bring it to me. I called her, explained its size and weight, and asked if she could still deliver; knowing what a colossus it was. She said “definitely,” and that she would start rounding up her other friends to help. I teared up a little at this point, while thanking her. She asked me to text her when I had completed the phone payment. While waiting for Malu’s initial reply, I had also texted Sean and Amber about picking up the thundering titan; and they too had answered with a cheerful “Yes!”
Now it is important to understand that we have catchment water, which runs from the rain gutters into two 5000 gallon cisterns, and is pumped throughout the house by an electric water pump. That’s right, when we lose power, we also lose water. So our pioneering adventures include no flushing toilet, no showers, no sink to wash dishes in, and nothing electric. Hence the generator urgency.
So I let Sean and Amber know that the Kohler 14 was covered, but that they could use an extra pair of hands to lift it onto the truck. They cruised into Steve’s and fortified the team effort. Then they headed over to Home Depot and grabbed us four full tanks of propane; experiencing a few technical difficulties in the process. What a great team they are.
Malu and de brudders arrived first, hauling the ginormous monstrosity on a trailer. They backed in, magically lifted it off, and rolled it over to its resting place on two refrigerator dollies. Such love and aloha! They wanted nothing in return, and firmly encouraged me to let them know if I needed anything else. Then came Sean and Amber with sweet spirits and propane.
My next task was finding an electrician to hard wire the generator into our power grid, while setting up a manual switch to toggle our voltage between the generator and Helco current in order to keep the generator power from feeding back into the power lines, which could shock the Helco out of the workers while they were working on the lines. Complicated. I texted Shanna and Matt, Michelle and Farzin, and Sunny. My electrician was at the airport taking his daughter to college on the mainland. Shanna texted me back with the name and number of an electrician Matt works with. I called, explained the situation, and they agreed to come out. The owner came first, studied the situation, and we discussed various options. Then his son and another worker came to help. Together they determined that it was too much of a project to complete that day; and told me that they would loan me their big Honda generator until they could get my motor running. Here come those tears again … So they called two more of their electricians, had them run to town and pick up the Honda, fill it with gas and oil, and bring it down to our house. We now had not one, not two, but five licensed electricians helping us get temporary power to our water pump and refrigerator. They oriented me to the Honda, had me start it up, and the Hallelujah Chorus erupted out of motorized motion. Our water pump began purring, the fridge came on, and a wave of tired relief began sweeping over me. I thank them a few too many times, and then they left.
What a beautiful, loving, wonderful group of friends we have; and how much better we can all hold on with helping hands.
Tags: helping hands, hurricane, friends, friendship, Hawaii
Photo Credit: Hawaii News Now
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