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The Honolulu Advertiser

Posted on: Thursday, September 16, 2004

Isle Jaycees leave town just in time

By Curtis Lum
Advertiser Staff Writer

Four Hawai'i Jaycees who were in New Orleans for a convention managed to catch one of the last flights out of the city yesterday just hours before Hurricane Ivan began to batter parts of the Gulf Coast.

Jon Nishihara, Marcus Pang, Bobby Agpoa and Elisa Ritua, arrived in New Orleans on Tuesday — only to learn the convention was canceled and many of the city's 1.2 million residents and thousands of tourists were fleeing.

Nishihara, president of the Hawai'i Jaycees, said Tuesday night that their options were to hunker down in their hotel or try to get on a flight to safety. But with thousands of other people with the same idea, Nishihara wondered if that would be possible.

Stan Fichtman, Jaycees spokesman, said the four were up all night as Ritua negotiated on the phone with Continental Airlines.

"Continental was the only airline running out of New Orleans and their flight was either the last or next-to-last flight out of New Orleans to anywhere," Fichtman said. "I get this phone call from Marcus Pang and he says, 'We're in Houston,' and I just let out a big sigh of relief."

Fichtman said the four made their way to Los Angeles, but since their flight to Honolulu isn't until Sunday, they made a side trip to Las Vegas.