Last year in Costa Rica I experienced my first earthquake. To be fair, it was neither traumatic nor particularly interesting, which, if you have to experience a potential natural disaster, is a good thing. I felt our condo building shake, briefly contemplated whether too many Pilsens made me imagine the whole thing, and then discovered that I had bravely conquered my first earthquake in Central America. Hooray! Mas Pilsen, por favor.

Last week in Maui, news that two hurricanes, Iselle and Julio, were funneling their way through the Pacific in a bee-line directly toward the Hawaiian Islands, was not so welcoming. The first hurricane to directly hit Hawaii since 1992, Iselle was scheduled to hit the eastern shores of Hawaii’s Big Island before continuing on to Maui and the rest of the island chain. Since we are located in the most isolated population center on Earth with little to no way of escape, the people of Hawaii did what anyone would do who’s told mother nature is sending a giant ‘f you’ their direction: prepare.

A Lesson in Emergency Preparedness

I should note that I am usually unprepared for the forces of nature. I do not own a single item that is rain-proof or made for above average outdoor use. I wouldn’t know how to fashion anything out of a coconut unless it had a manual and a machete taped to the outside of it. Luckily for me, sir boyfriend Peter Rimkus, who has spent days of his life preparing his mind and man-skills for imaginary natural disasters and wilderness survival, was readily available to ensure our imminent safety.

In the event of a hurricane, the first most likely occurrence is that your power will go out. High winds and heavy rain are not a friend to power lines. This means you need supplies: water (1 gallon per person per day in a food-grade plastic container), non-perishable food, first aid kit, protective clothing, flashlights, batteries, non-prescription drugs, medications, cash, toilet paper, personal hygiene items, radio, manual can opener, family contact information, important documents and a full tank o’ gas. If possible, you’re also encouraged not to drive anywhere due to flash flooding.

Where hurricanes are the enemy of electricity, they’re the Christmas bonus for grocery, convenience and hardware stores. Cases of water, canned foods, booze, tape, candles, batteries, you name it… gone with a quickness.

a lesson in emergency preparedness

Our emergency preparedness items included: Pau Vodka, Zing Zang bloody mary mix, 12 pack of Rolling Rock, several gallons of water, soup, chili, crunchy peanut butter, bread, bananas, flashlight, batteries, toilet paper, candles, lighter, speaker, denatured alcohol, and a tiny baby stove that Peter built out of 2 Rolling Rock cans, scissors and a nail. Rad.

Emergency Preparedness Maui

Then we waited. And waited. And eventually it got a little windy, then didn’t. Then it rained for a little while, then didn’t. It was all very anti-climactic, but once again, in the event of a potential natural disaster, that’s a good thing. The Big Island definitely got hit the hardest with flooding and damage from falling trees and power lines, but all in all, Hawaii got pretty lucky. The second hurricane, Julio, even decided paradise wasn’t his cup’a storm and headed north, completely missing us altogether.

So while I thankfully didn’t have to put my survival instincts to real-world practice, at least I live with someone who’s always infinitely more prepared than I am.

On another note, people have apparently been trying to return their cases of water and canned food to the grocery store. A final lesson is not to be a dumbass, but that’s just good advice for everyone.