FROM THE ARCHIVES: Iniki victims documented the hurricane with cameras

Hurricane Iniki: Documenting the storm

LIHUE, KAUAI (HawaiiNewsNow) - When Iniki hit Kauai twenty years ago, it was destined to be one of the best-documented hurricanes in history. It was all about timing.

As the storm approached, Kauai residents were making ready, getting supplies, filling up their cars with gas and buying propane. Bruce Smalling was doing all that, plus more.

"Well actually what I was doing is making sure I had batteries charged and I knew that this was going to be something monumental, and so I wanted to be able to shoot as much video as I could," Smalling said.

Iniki had great timing. For one thing, the storm hit Kauai during daylight hours making it easier for cameras to capture. But it wasn't just the time of day, it was also the time in terms of technology.

"About that time in the early 90s a lot of people had cameras and they were really out there and shooting different places around the island when the storm occurred," commented Smalling.

In the days following the storm, Smalling collaborated with journalist Lee Cataluna to form Small –Cat Productions and release a VHS (remember those?) called, "Iniki Through the Eyes of Kauai's People."

"Easily over a month we hadn't had electricity and I couldn't edit or anything but we were conceiving of it and deciding that although I had shot some video and a few other people had, the only way to really get something really visually interesting would be to get home footage from all around the island," Smalling recalled.

Kauai residents we spoke with say the video accurately captured life during and after the hurricane.

Smalling explained, "And a lot of that had to do with the variety of footage and also we lived it, we lived the experience and Lee wrote it mostly, we sort of collaborated but it was really Lee and it really told a story of what happened."

To commemorate Iniki's 20th anniversary, Smalling plans to re-release a few of the videos on DVD. If you would like one, contact him via email: or give him a call at (808) 639-9126.

Lee Cataluna went on to become a successful television news anchor on Oahu, working at Hawaii News Now station KHNL in the late 1990s and currently as a columnist for the Honolulu Star-Advertiser.

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