WAINIHA – Back home on Powerhouse Road in Wainiha, Katie Conant, her husband Blake and their five-month-old daughter Giovanna Ahu’ula, along with their two dogs, were happy.
The family said they evacuated after the flood because they have a culvert that empties into their yard and on the first night of the storm, April 14, it turned into a waterfall.
When they heard there were landslides, they decided evacuating was best. On April 18, they made their way to the YMCA Camp Naue in Haena, where they boarded a Blackhawk helicopter.
“I was happy to be getting my baby to a safe place,” Katie said.
At the same time, it was bittersweet.
“Because people around us had lost homes,” Blake Conant said.
The night of the storm, the couple worked diligently to ensure their neighbors were safe.
“Katie was pulling people and dogs out of their houses,” Blake said.
Then, the relief effort started.
“Two Blackhawk helicopters landed in our backyard and I was deploying military troops in my truck,” Blake said. “There was an onslaught of food and water. It was unbelievable. Then it was getting food up the valley, to people who’d lost their cars.”
When community members began fixing the road, Blake said it was amazing to see because they were the same people whose homes had been swept away.
Once they were brought to safety, Katie, executive director of Hale Halawai Ohana Community center in Hanalei, got right to work collecting data and organizing social services.
The couple will continue to help their neighbors. They said once you see all the community has gone through, and look into the eyes of those who lost so much, you can’t not help.
“Our community’s going to be stronger because we’re pulling through this,” Katie said.
Bethany Freudenthal, Courts, Crime and County reporter, 652-7891 or firstname.lastname@example.org