Red Cross, as usual, rises to the challenge

The response to help those affected by the flooding on Kauai has been nothing short of amazing. Every day we hear stories of people going out and looking to volunteer. They clean, cook, wash, deliver, encourage — whatever is required, volunteers have been there and will continue to be there.

We continue to get calls at TGI from people wanting to know where and how they can help. We’re happy to help. So if you know of chores related to flood cleanup where volunteers can be put to work, please let know us.

If you’re looking for ways to help this weekend, there are two that will go faster the more people show up: This morning, 8:30 to 10:30, at Lydgate Beach Park, there’s a beach cleanup. The ponds and beaches are covered with driftwood, big and small. The goal is to move as much of it as possible to a pile for easy pickup and removal. If you can, swing by.

And Sunday, from 10 to 1, beach cleanups are slated at Pine Trees, Anahola and Rock Quarry. Again, the more the merrier. Organizers are really hoping for a large turnout to remove the debris. Your help is needed, and this is a wonderful chance to be part of a beautiful ohana.

While there’s no way to properly credit everyone for all they’re doing to speed the recovery, we would like to highlight the efforts of the American Red Cross, led by its Kauai director, Padraic Gallagher. If you know Padraic, you know he’s an excellent organizer, motivator, and he’s a big heart to help those in need.

Since the flooding disaster began in mid-April, Padraic has literally been in the trenches, going nonstop 24/7. It has already been a long time since he’s seen a two-day weekend, and it’s not likely he’ll see one anytime soon. While he could use a rest, he’s not complaining, and neither are the rest of the dedicated Red Cross volunteers who have taken on an array of tasks and keep coming back for more.

Most of Padraic’s days are starting at 6 a.m. and end around 9 or 10 p.m., seven days a week. Some of the biggest challenges are managing the information.

“It’s tough putting the right people and goods where they are needed most. We are now in the phase that people are starting to get ‘compassion fatigue’ working too many hours, not enough down time and rest,” he said.

Progress is being made in the recovery, he said, but word isn’t always getting out and when it does, sometimes it’s not right. As you can imagine, things are moving quickly, constantly changing, and it’s tough to keep up.

So, here straight from the Red Cross and Padraic is the latest update. It gives you an idea of just how busy and how dedicated these folks have been:

• It has 36 volunteers working in disaster assessment, casework and bulk distribution. Sheltering has officially stopped as of Sunday, April 22.

• Last Thursday and Friday, damage assessment teams flew into the isolated area to go house to house to record the extent of the damage, along with a disaster mental health services volunteer.

• It has opened eight cases in the Kahiliwai area, and caseworkers have been in Koloa and Haena meeting with potential clients.

• It is about 90 percent finished with damage assessment and has small areas in Wainiha and Haena to finish up and hopes to complete those by today.

• It has trained five new case workers and will be bringing in two caseworkers from Oahu to help offset the case load.

• They have visited over 450 homes islandwide to assess flood damage and continue to reach out as more calls come in.

• They have handed out 96 comfort kits and 30 cleanup kits.

• Volunteers with the Veterans Administration have gone house to house in the Koloa area visiting all residents in affected areas, handing out Red Cross information and checking on vets.

• Volunteers with Disabled American Veterans did the same in the Hanalei areas and the Anahola area.

• Team Rubicon has 24 volunteers helping with “muck out, clean out” across all affected areas.

• It continues to receive in-kind donations. Water and cleaning supplies and those items are getting forwarded to the food banks on island for distribution.

• It has had 10 event-based volunteers stop by the office to help out and more are coming each day and assigned to work with Red Cross volunteers to bolster relief efforts.

• They spoke to over 400 people at a community meeting in Haena this past Sunday, and next week meetings are planned for Hanalei, Anahola, and Koloa.

“There is still a lot of work to do and everyone involved with this relief effort has done an extraordinary job. They have worked very long hours, sometimes skipping meals and missing family, so that our fellow Kauaians can get back to a normal life,” Gallagher said.

To that, we say thank you. Your efforts are much appreciated, perhaps even more than you know.

One final note: Red Cross on Kauai still needs more volunteers. If you can, please give them a call at their local office and learn how you can help and be part of their good work on behalf of others. Give them a call at 245-4919.


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