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Friday, December 07, 2007



I got "T-Boned" last night!

The huge Kona storm struck Wednesday morning with a vengeance. Thunder, lightning, torrential rain driven by winds that maxed out just below hurricane force.

I slept through the whole thing. First noticed there was a problem when I woke up about noon. Rolled over and went back to sleep. Awoke again about 4p and still no power. Called Judy to get an update. She had never been through a hurricane before, I have, and said this was the worst storm of her life. Power failed about 9:45a. North Kihei Road SR-310) was flooded and closed from its junction in north Kihei all the way to its junction with the Honoapi'ilani Highway (SR-30) at Ma'alaea. This is the only access road to the main power generation facility on the island. Everything south of the power plant had no electricity, Thats Kihei, Wailea and Makena. All the way to where the road ends at La Perouse Bay, where the last lava flow occurred, circa 1795. South Kihei Road was flooded out in all the usual places with rapidly flowing runoff. 5 feet deep in places. The new, raised, Mokulele Highway (SR-311) between Kihei and Kahului was okay. However both it and our "high road", the Pi'ilani Highway (SR-31), were overloaded with traffic, as the were the only passable routes available.

Power also failed in the upcountry area of Kula, where a part of one road washed away and floods destroyed at least two homes. The local radio stations remained on the air, a lot better than what happened after the earthquake in October, 2006. But there was little encouragement in the info they were passing along. At best, we were told, the power would be back around midnight. And it was, in Wailea, briefly. Seems that about a dozen or so transmission poles failed on one feed line and about 7 on the secondary feed line. Both of the feeders to Kula suffered similar catastrophic failure. At the cab company, our telephone lines went dead. At first it was thought that this was due to the equipment requiring electricity but when old fashioned , line powered phones were plugged in a dial tone couldn't be raised.

Since I had no lights, I decided to get ready for work and go in early. No sense just sitting at home, in the dark. Logged in at 6p and there was just myself, Kimo and TMR working. "Crazy" Brian had called off and the day shift had split. At first we staged one cab at the three most major resorts, to be available. They had no way of reaching us by phone. The Shops At Wailea was closed and only Mulligans On The Blue was operating in Wailea. TMR and I decided to try and improve the odds for activity by taking our business cards to all the resorts in Wailea and Makena so they could have our personal cell numbers to reach us. When I reached the Wailea Marriott, they had a lady going into Kihei, just across the Kihei/Wailea demarcation line. My first run of the shift. Later in the 6 o'clock hour, the Four Seasons called for a guest trying to get back to the resort from a condo in Wailea, which gave me my second fare. About 9p the three of us ventured into Kihei to see if there was anything open, stopping at those hotels and condos that have 24 hour front desk service.

At the "Triangle", Life's A Beach was open with candles for light and the Dog & Duck had a small generator providing limited illumination. Security at the "Triangle" closed them down at 10p for safety reasons. The parking lot was already under water and the rains still had not stopped.

The only thing still operating was the Chevron gas station, which had a small generator providing juice for the pumps and the interior of the of their cashier kiosk.

By 11p, Kimo and TMR had had enough and split for home.

Trying to traverse Kihei was like a rat searching for cheese in a maze. I learned what ancient Hawai'i must have been like. It was pitch black and your normal landmarks weren't visible.

Before Maui Electric Company crews could get to some areas, especially Maui Meadows, they had to wait for county road crews to clear debris, like trees, boulders, etc. In some areas they couldn't even get in with their big trucks until the flooding abated. Some of the ravines in the higher areas of south maui had floods 10 to 15 feet deep running down the streets. My Thursday morning day relief called off and the second one was a "no show". Just before 5a, the Maui Coast Hotel, in Kihei, gave my number to a guest needing to get to the airport. Their phone system was out and the guest's phone went dead, couldn't recharge it, as soon as I got the basic info. That was a nice finish to my shift. The third and fourth relief drivers both showed up a bit past 5a. Made it back to Wailea about 6a and went home.

On Thursday, I woke up around 12:30p. It was dead quiet. There still wasn't any power. Called Judy to get the latest update. Maybe, just maybe we would get lights again at 4p. Also sent a text message to Wiskers to see if she had heard from her mom and dad, at their condo in Makena, where I had dinner on Sunday night. She called me back and advised that they were surviving. Judy, who lives a couple of miles north of me , got power about 4:20p and, after many fitfull starts, mine was restored just past 5p. But the internet kept dropping out when I tried logging on.

Went into work at my normal time and found out that the main phone line was still dead. We were still up the proverbial creek without the needed propulsion device. Drove around to all the resorts and hotels again, passing out my card and explaining the situation. It did produce a positve result when the Four Seasons called with a reservation for today. Eventually, those of us working the night watch moved into Kihei and found out that a mile long section of town was still blacked out. This included the "Triangle", FoodLand, and the Kukui Mall. The only bars operating were TipUps, at Azeka Place, and The Sports Page, just down the hill from my place.

About 10p, I went up to Safeway, a supermarket, to see if the were open, they were. As I am leaving, there is a 3-way stop, in the parking lot, just before you reach the traffic light at Pi'ikea Street. In-bound traffic from the street does have to stop. I make the necessary stop and observe a white Jeep approaching the stop sign from my right. No problem. I pull away and the SOB DOESN"T STOP! "T-Bones" me in the right front passenger door (see pics above). Then he claims that I sideswiped him. The impact "rang my chimes" and twisted my previously injured right knee. I immediately put out a call for assistance and requested a 9-1-1 response. My fellow cabbies arrived before the cops did. Since the collision took place on private property, the police collected and exchanged our driver and insurance info and passed it on the each of us. After that was done, I went into Safeway and bought a roll of clear duct tape to resecure my right side mirror to the door. It had been ripped loose and was dangling by its control cables.

I hurt and went home around 11p, returning to the street at 1a. By that time "Crazy" Brian and TMR were pau for the night, a new driver was almost ready to roll it up and Terry, whose night it was to dispatch was just waiting for me to pass the phone over and make tracks for his bed. By 1:30a, it was just me. Had my first, and only, run at 3a. Taking the bartender home from Mulligans to Maui Meadows.. A whopping $12.50 fare. Finally was relieved at 4:45a. Chewed the fat for a bit with the three day drivers, who all showed up at the same time, and then came home.

God, I hope we get Hawaiian Telcom to reestablish out main phone line. This is really hurting our business. But, just like the old Ma Bells, they do what they want, when they want. Which explains why so many people are going strictly cellular or to a VoIP service.

Speaking of cell phones. My new one has worked great. When other drivers can't get a bar I have 5 showing. Except at my house. The cell tower that services my geographic area is in the still unpowered area in south-central Kihei and its battery back-up has expired. Its a "roaming" call to make use of the phone. Oh, well. Roaming is free on my contract.

3 fares / 93 miles / 3rd quarter below $100 bracket

1 fare / 43 miles / 1st quarter below $100 bracket

I hope everybody has a better day than I had.

See you tomorrow.





"Let's all be careful out there!"

"Let's all be careful out there!"



I'll write more after I finish my shift.

Mahalo for coming by during this past wet and wild couple of days.

I am glad that my posts via the cell phone came through. I had no way of knowing if it was working or not.

See you again in a few hours. I hope.


"Let's all be careful out there!"