"There were angels here all night long… I'm a fireman and I don't scare easily but it definitely tested my resolve."
Amidst the deafening sound of trees cracking and falling, John Gravitt and his wife Roblyn rode out Hurricane Iselle in their home on the Big Island of Hawaii. As the power failed and the wind snapped the trees surrounding their house, both believed they would perish in the storm. "I honestly thought we would be crushed by falling trees," said Roblyn, "it was the darkest, longest and most terrifying night."
The following nights were also very long and sleepless for Roblyn, until Red Cross RN Candy Iha came to the rescue. John Gravitt has a medical condition called sleep apnea, the treatment for which requires a CPAP machine which requires power. Without the machine, John could stop breathing in his sleep, so Roblyn kept vigil for four nights to make sure that didn't happen.
Roblyn had ordered a generator online with expedited shipping, but it was delayed due to the storm and not due to arrive for two more days. Exhausted, she turned to the American Red Cross for assistance.
"I received a request on Tuesday morning, August 12, for a generator," said Candy, "and I spoke to our Red Cross Government Liaison and Community Partnership Manager, Jane Jennings and was told that nobody had any generators, either on the Big Island or on Oahu. I asked them to keep looking." Meanwhile Candy called every resource she could think of to try to obtain a generator. Finally, at 5:30 p.m., she received a lead from a Red Cross Community Partners volunteer who gave her the phone number for Puna Rentals, although no one knew if they had any generators at that point.
"I called and the answering machine said 'We are closed, our hours are 7-4 if you have one of our rentals, leave a msg.' I said, 'this is an emergency.' I explained the situation in the message I left on the machine," said Candy, "and at 6pm a woman named Nikki called me back. She said she had a generator but the office was closed. She needed the specifics of wattage and voltage for the John's machine. I connected Nikki and Roblyn and there was a fit!!"
Nikki not only went to the shop and opened it, but offered to meet halfway between Hilo and where Roblyn lives in Puna. "What a saint!!!" Candy said.
Roblyn had a generator for John by 8:30 p.m., in time for the two of them to get their first nights sleep in 5 nights.
"Candy was absolutely great," said Roblyn, "She never gave up on finding it (the generator). I don't know what I would have done without her help. As far as I'm concerned, the Red Cross saved my husband's life."