When Hurricane Andrew roared across Florida destroying a Buddhist temple in Miami and severely damaging a Hindu temple under construction, the Saivite monks at Kauai Aadheenam ashram in Hawaii watched the TV reports with compassion. A US$ 101 contribution was given for relief. The Florida super-storm also moderately damaged the ashrams of Swami Jyothirmayananda and Yogi Hari. Two Hare Krishna devotees died in a small plane crash during efforts to aid Andrew victims. But the same weather engine off Africa's coast that spawned Hurricane Andrew brewed another tropical storm which crossed the Atlantic, jumped the Panama isthmus and sped toward the Hawaiian islands.
Satguru Sivaya Subramuniyaswami – head of Saiva Siddhanta Church (headquarters is Kauai Aadheenam) – and the ashram monks were alerted September 11th morning by tidal wave sirens to a category-4 hurricane – generating the energy equivalent of four nuclear bombs every second – named "Iniki" heading straight for the 30-mile wide island. Ten years earlier a category-1 hurricane hit Kauai, including the ashram situated on a plateau in Kauai's center. Hurricanes in Hawaii come about every ten years. In 1982 the ashram – which is a major center for HINDUISM TODAY since 1979 – was down for two weeks. The monks prepared the buildings for Hurricane Iniki, settled the animals and everybody gathered in the Siva Nataraja temple with its 3-foot concrete block and lava rock walls – it was untouched by the hurricane. The maelstrom hit with 160 mph winds – up to 194-mph on the southeast side – at 4 PM, lashing the island for 2[?] hours When the monks emerged from the temple, their flashlights stabbing into a preternaturally quiet twilight, tree and roof debris eight feet high blocked their exit. The monk's quarters and health clinic was totally destroyed, its roof blown off and part of it spearing into Sivaya Subramuniyaswami's office. The guesthouse was clove by a 60 foot palm tree and a giant banyan crushed the maintenance shop. The nursery was demolished. The main stone building had windows blown out and roof damage. The 51-acre landscaping was devastated: paths, bridges, orchards and shrines. The reconstruction is estimated by contractors at US$ 500,000. Plans to build a white granite Siva temple here and HINDUISM TODAY'S publishing schedule remain unaffected.
Kauai became a refugee's world with 8,000 displaced people, thousands of homes (35%) demolished, 17,000 power/telephone poles down, water gone. Communications were completely out. It was four long days before Subramuniyaswami briefly contacted his other centers.
Article copyright Himalayan Academy.