WAINIHA — The devastation is all around in hard-hit Wainiha, but so is hope.
On a riverbank just before the one lane bridge to Haena, a long line of boats waited their turn to drop off their loads Tuesday. On the bank of the river, a group of residents gathered with trucks, cars and all terrain vehicles, to help unload and transport items to those in need.
At the Wainiha General Store, a temporary food bank was set up in the parking lot and residents came and went throughout the morning.
“You talk about the end days and helping each other, this is the reality,” said Wainiha resident Mahina Laughlin.
The response she has seen from the community brings tears to her eyes.
Following the weekend storms of flooding and landslides caused by relentless rains, property destruction was overwhelming. Homes destroyed. Roads washed out. Vehicles overturned. People stranded.
Yet, they were not alone.
“To see how much people love each other, of what we’re experiencing, when everyone comes together and shares everything they have,” Laughlin said.
By mid-morning, those manning the food bank had already seen 100 people and taken three truck loads of deliveries up the valley to those who are stuck and don’t have cars.
At Anini Beach Tuesday morning, people gathered to load donations onto boats headed to Wainiha and Haena.
Jodie Thayer, who lives a couple houses down from the home that was lost on Powerhouse Road, said her family’s house is OK. She’d recently just gotten home, but had been stuck in Hanalei for four days, away from her husband, two sons and a wild cat the family has been trying to tame.
“The community is helping each other out,” she said. “The community is the best.”
For about a year, Naomi Hild has lived in Hanalei, but she’s lived on Kauai for almost eight years. When the storm hit, she said she didn’t think much of it because it’s just another day on Kauai.
“When you live here, you have to realize that Mother Nature is going to take its course,” Hild said.
Hild said she didn’t start getting scared until the water began coming in through her baseboards.
“So I went upstairs to my landlord’s house and waited it out there,” she said.
The damage to her home is minimal compared to others who lost everything, she said.
“My heart is filled with gratitude that I came out of this in a good place,” she said. “It could have been so much worse than it was.”
Since Monday, Hild has been spending her days transporting food to those in need.
“I feel like that’s what it should be,” she said. “Make sure you’re OK in your place, but help out where you can.”
Natural healing herbalist Gabriel Monaghan, who was helping unload donations from boats, said his family fared pretty well throughout the storm.
His home wasn’t adversely affected by the flooding, but it was scary.
“I stayed up all night watching the river, because it’s 10 feet from our house,” he said.
A lot of Wainiha residents, he said, were traumatized from the rushing water, “and I was too.”
Since his house wasn’t damaged during the flood, Monaghan said he has been spending time fixing his neighbor’s damaged water and propane pipes with PVC glue.
Of the storm, he said he can say that he has never been experienced by those who live in Wainiha.
“Just speaking to the old timers, none of them have seen anything like this,” Monaghan.
In 24 hours, he measured 30 inches of rain at his house.
“The majority of that was in the last three hours of the storm,” he said.
Aside from helping each other clean up their homes after the storm, a group of about 20 men from the community have been clearing the landslides that have blocked them in.
Rick Hamyoung, who has lived in Wainiha, “forever,” said they started clearing trees that were stuck in the power line and hanging on Monday.
The North Shore damage is so severe Gov. David Ige declared a state of emergency for Kauai.
“Hopefully we can get out of here in a month at least,” he said. “We’re all volunteers. We have guys here that know how to work, not just talk story.”
Everyone, he said, including the young boys, have been working hard to clear the road.
As far as needs for the community, Hamyoung said they are desperately in need of beer.
“More beer than water. More Spam, more eggs,” he said. “Most of us are married, so we don’t need girls.”
One thing Wainiha residents are running low on is propane for cooking and gas for their vehicles.
As far as what’s next for the community, Laughlin said they are all anxious to get to Hanalei.
“We all have small business and families in Hanalei,” she said.