KEKAHA — Family and friends met at Kekaha’s Kikiaola Small Boat Harbor on Tuesday morning to bring supplies to flood victims stranded on the North Shore.
A team of volunteers loaded three boats with supplies to motor around the Westside and deliver essential items to those impacted by the flooding that washed away houses, caused landslides and closed roads and bridges.
“I know they said help is on the way, but they need help now,” said Westside waterman and co-owner of Blue Ocean Adventure Tours, Captain Cody Kimura, who spearheaded the community effort, along with his brothers and employees, to help those in need.
“Our whole company is helping,” Kimura said, “we canceled four tours so we could do this today.”
The company stopped operating tours to utilize its two 26-foot Zodiacs equipped with twin 150-horsepower engines to boat in bottled water, non-perishable foods and other desperately needed items.
“A lot of my family’s homes got taken down in Wainiha, Hanalei, Kilauea, Kepana, and Koloa,” Kimura said. “But the guys in the north, we know how hard it is to get up there. There’s not too many boats besides the Air Guard and a couple local personal boats up there. We know we can be a big help.”
They bought two pallets of water, about $1,000 worth of clothes, and around $6,000 worth of goods with the help of Kuhio Auto Group and Kauai Air Conditioning. The volunteers stayed up until three in the morning readying the boats and supplies.
“We got brand new generators, we bought about a pallet worth of flashlights and lanterns, a pallet full of batteries, dog food, diapers, baby formula, baby food, you name it,” Kimura said.
“It was more than 7,500 bucks with the generators,” Kimura said. “It was amazing all the people that came together last night.”
Within two hours on Monday evening, the crew loaded two trailers and the backs of several trucks and cars.
“Our family is in there,” Kimura said. “So that’s kind of why we feel like we’ll be more effective than the air guard, because we know exactly where the supplies need to be.”
Marine conditions along the western shores were favorable despite the 25-knot east winds and 6-foot windswell. Water depths varied with the tides and erosion along North Shore access points, so they brought divers to jump in and guide or navigate beach landings.
“The wind is blowing hard out of the east, so we should be pretty good up until Kee and then we’ll head into the wind,” Kimura said. “These boats are Navy Seal boats…. so we’ll see when we put them to the test today.”
They planned to go into Kee first, Wainiha second, then YMCA Camp Naue and Lumahai last before turning around.
“I got family stuck up in Lumahai Valley, and they have no power,” Kimura added. “My auntie needs medicine, so we’re gonna take medicine up there. We got juice for the kids, we got everything. We even brought beer for all the uncles.”
Other items they were delivering included toilet paper, soap, pillows, garbage bags, ramen noodles, Vienna sausages and Spam.
“Our friends hiked out yesterday, and they took pictures of 13 different landslides — major landslides that’s not going to be fixed anytime soon. You know the locals, they’re in there and they want to be in there. They want to stay with their homes, so they can be there for the whole run. It’s important that we can get them as much supplies as we can.”
On the way back, they were planning to pick up stranded people at Kalalau and Hanakapiai to shuttle them out, after hearing Monday that some of the charters from the north were charging people $200 to get out.
“So we’re going to go in and just bring them out,” Kimura said. “We’ll do as much as we can, spend all day out there and see what we can do.”