BATTERED KAUAI WRESTLES WITH HURRICANE HAVOC
Troops patrolled and helped clean up neighborhoods devastated by Hurricane Iniki, while officials tended to more than 7,000 people in shelters as Kauai took its first halting steps toward normality yesterday.
Federal officials said 10,000 homes were badly damaged when Hawaii's worst storm this century blasted across the resort island Friday. Most of the island's 70 hotels sustained serious damage.
"Wherever you look, it's heartbreak alley," said Fred Allen, who said he rode out the hurricane in his bed.
Limited phone service was restored, giving the island's 52,000 residents their first link to the outside world since the storm hit. Water was restored to about half the island, including Lihue, the largest town. But it may take more than a week to get Lihue's power plant running, officials said.
"We're getting some things done, but every time we fix one problem another one arises," said Kauai Mayor JoAnn Yukimura.
Crews continued the daunting task of cleaning up utility poles, trees, and pieces of buildings that gave way under Iniki's sustained wind of 130 miles per hour and gusts to 160 m.p.h.
The hurricane was blamed for at least three deaths, including one 80 miles southeast on Oahu, and 98 injuries.
The Coast Guard searched between Kauai and Niihau, a small neighboring island, for two people reported aboard a sailboat that sank as Iniki hit. A 50-year-old Kauai man who also was on the boat was rescued Saturday after clinging to an ice chest for 21 hours.
Federal disaster officials, criticized for slow response to Hurricane Andrew, directed a round-the-clock airlift of supplies. Maj. Gen. Edward Richardson, Hawaii's adjutant general, said 836 National Guard troops were brought in to assist in the cleanup operations.
Roy Price, vice director of state Civil Defense, said one priority would be to deliver tarps and plastic sheets to damaged homes before rain showers from a tropical depression reach Kauai later Monday.
The USS Belleau Wood, an amphibious assault ship, was en route to Kauai with 27 five-ton trucks, many military vehicles, 10 field kitchens, field showers, and about 300 troops.
"We're here to help as much as possible and to give people a sense that they can rebuild their lives," said Patricia Saiki, chief of the United States Small Business Administration. "It's important for people to regain some normalcy."
Motorists waited in lines two-blocks- long for gas, and people lined up outside grocery stores. Those without water service bled water heaters and hot tubs for drinking water.
Paul Lucas, a roofing contractor, said the people of Kauai are survivors. "People know each other here. It's like family. There are a lot of homeless but they are being taken care of," Mr. Lucas said.
Oahu escaped the worst of the storm, with an estimated $2.5 million damage to 163 private buildings. Niihau, a privately held island 25 miles west of Kauai, sustained only minor damage, Mr. Price said.