The devastation, as we all know by now, is staggering on the North Shore.
Homes destroyed. Roads washed out and buried in landslides. Vehicles overturned. People stranded. Animals perished.
Some lost everything they owned. Some still don’t know all that the flooding took from them. Many are still pulling ruined furniture from their homes. The cleanup has just begun and could take months. Insurance won’t cover much of the losses quickly adding up. The property damage, before this is over, will be in the hundreds of millions. What many people experienced, what they survived, was traumatic, and will remain with them.
Others escaped the fury of this biblical rainfall that poured 27 inches of rain in 24 hours on Hanalei. Some were fortunate to have avoided the troubles that befell others. Their homes, their cars, their pets, their families, are still safe and dry.
The relief, the recovery, the rebuilding, the future, for those affected by this disaster, are uncertain.
What is certain, what they can count on, is that they are not alone.
That much is clear. The response to the call for help and donations has been overwhelming and heartwarming. It’s been beautiful to see. More and more stories are coming to light every day of those who need assistance. More and more stories are coming to light every day of those who are giving it.
We’re not going to try and name everyone who has volunteered, who has donated money, who has collected supplies, to benefit others. There are so many that certainly we would miss some.
But we know families have rallied to this cause. Businesses are contributing. Professional people and individuals are out collecting delivering donations. Elected officials have gotten involved. The response, frankly, has overwhelmed organizers who are trying to be sure each donation gets to where it needs to be and that each monetary gift is utilized where it will benefit those who most need it.
In Wainiha, Reporter Bethany Freudenthal reported on the spirit, the determination and the generosity she found there on Tuesday. People devastated by the flooding were not just waiting for help. They were doing what they could for themselves, but also doing all they could for their neighbors.
In Hanalei, Reporter Jessica Else saw trucks, loaded with food, water, supplies, driving and delivering them. She saw volunteers at Anini Beach Park organizing donations and preparing them to be delivered by boat to Wainiha and Haena. She saw families and friends reaching out to each other and those around them.
In Anahola, Reporter Dennis Fujimoto found neighbors helping neighbors.
In Koloa, Pastor Rick Bunschuh of Kauai Christian Fellowship wrote of how a community quickly came out to help a flooded neighborhood.
Here’s what they did not see: despair, anger, bitterness. They did not hear anyone saying they couldn’t take it anymore. They did not hear or see about anyone who wanted to quit, who didn’t think life was fair. They didn’t see people blaming others and pointing fingers at others, being disrepectful.
This is a time for courage, not cowardice. It’s time for perseverance, not surrender. It’s a time for an outreached hand, not closed fist.
Mayor Bernard Carvalho Jr. took a helicopter tour of the area on Monday. He knows of the challenges that are ahead as the rebuilding begins. He also knows of the strength of the island. It has been through hard times like Hurricane Iniki before and it will go through them again. The mayor expressed no doubts that Kauai would bounce back from this blow. The people who have long called this island home are not weak of heart. They are strong of will.
He used what is perhaps the perfect word to describe the people of Kauai in this situation. That word is “resilient.”