"We're as prepared as you can be"

In the isles of many stores on the big island of Hawaii, there is no calm before the storm. Shelves are empty as people stock up on supplies.

Some parts of the islands may see as much as a foot of rainfall by Friday, which could bring power outages, flash floods and landslides.

That has emergency management officials worried. On Wednesday, they discussed what back-to-back hurricanes could mean for these islands, more than 2,400 miles away from the U.S. mainland.

"There's a limited amount of food on the island at any one time. The majority of food is barged in," said Barney Sheffield, disaster coordinator for the American Red Cross.

He said the storms could shut down Hawaii's shipping ports and cut off access to remote communities.

In the majority of the areas, there's only one road in and out, Sheffield said.

"We're as prepared as you can be, but you never know what's going to come down," he said.

That uncertainty turned to horror more than 30 years ago in November 1982 when Hurricane Iwa, a Category 1 storm, destroyed nearly 2,000 homes in Hawaii.

Ivan Pillani's house was among them, washed away by a flash flood.

"It's real scary. You don't what's going to happen. It just keeps going on and on to the next day, and then finally you see what's left," Pillani said.