When Hurricane Iniki, with its 130 mph winds, slammed ashore Sept. 11 on the Hawaiian island of Kauai, the devastation left in its wake was almost beyond belief. Large resort hotels, local businesses and homes were blown into piles of rubble by the fierce winds.
The storm also destroyed the lush vegetation that covers much of what many people call the most beautiful of the Hawaiian islands. On Kauai's south shore, where the eye of the storm came ashore, not even the trees were left standing.
Among the many groups responding to the call for help was the Girl Scouts of America, which chose to help by replanting trees in the hardest hit areas.
The Scouts asked for volunteers, with the idea that one individual from each state would be selected to participate in a replanting project.
Chosen to represent Maryland, from among the 26 finalists, was 18-year-old Margaret "Meg" Brousil, of Columbia.
"Actually, I was selected as the alternate representative," Meg says. "As it turned out, the girl who won couldn't go for some reason, and I was given the opportunity."
Meg is a resident of Beaverbrook, and a graduate of Centennial High School. She has been a Girl Scout since the second grade. During her 11 years of Scouting, she has achieved almost every honor offered by the Girl Scouts of America, including the coveted Gold Award.
The group was flown to Hawaii in late April, courtesy of United Airlines, and stayed at the Kauai Hyatt.
"We toured the island with local officials and members of the local Girl Scout troop," Meg says. "Even months after the storm, the destruction was incredible. People were rebuilding, and we were told that over one-third of the homes on the island were completely destroyed."
During her five-day stay, Meg had the opportunity to talk with some of the residents. She says this interaction offered much insight into what the people on Kauai had endured, and into their strong will to rebuild.
Palm trees were selected for the tree-replanting project along a beachfront area.
"We were told they were the best trees for the area," Meg says. "They grow fast, and are less likely to be damaged by the wind because they will bend."
The tree-planting area will soon become a park. It will serve as a reminder of Hurricane Iniki's destruction, and to commemorate those who assisted the residents of Kauai.
Another Columbia resident has also been doing some traveling faraway places.
Crystal Driessen, a member of the Chesapeake Bay Hurricanes 11-and-under girls all-star soccer team, just returned from Indiana where her team finished fourth in a national soccer tournament.
The Hurricanes are composed of the best young female soccer players in the Baltimore region. Four of the girls on the 12-member team have been named to All-America teams.
Crystal, who just turned 12, is the daughter of Robert and Marie Driessen of Clary's Forest. She will be entering the seventh grade at Harper's Choice Middle School in the fall.
Older sister, Kim Driessen, said that Crystal was on the road again this week. She left Friday along with her parents and the rest of the Hurricane team. They were headed to Florida and another national soccer tournament.
The combination of patience and hard work usually pays off at some point. For actor Malcolm Vallie, the 24-year-old son of Wilde Lake resident, Ruth McCauley, that time came last week when he assumed the lead role in a play being produced in New York City.
For the past six months, Mr. Vallie, had been the understudy to actor Richard Daupre, in an off-Broadway production of "Life North of 110th Street," a series of short stories adapted to the stage by playwright George Henry Steele.
Last week, Mr. Vallie stepped into the leading role in the play when Mr. Daupre suddenly quit, citing personal reasons.
Although she has not had the chance to see her son act since she moved to Columbia from New Rochelle, N.Y., several years ago, Mrs. McCauley says she is planning a trip to New York later this summer.
And, while on the subject of being on stage. . .
Here is an excellent opportunity for all you closet comedians, bathroom singers, and living room dancers out there to showcase your talents.
Part of the Columbia Association's Lakefront Festival includes an open stage night. Every Tuesday through the end of August, amateur entertainers of all kinds are invited to perform live, on stage, at Lake Kittamaqundi in beautiful downtown Columbia.
Sign-up for the Tuesday performances begins at 7 p.m., with the show starting at 8 p.m.
Each performance is limited to 10 minutes. This includes set-up and break-down time, so travel light and be ready to go on cue. Microphones and a sound system are provided.
This could be your big chance. Who knows? Maybe a record producer or talent agent will be lurking in the audience, contract in hand!