Answering the (cleanup) call

  • Bill Buley / The Garden Island

    Rod Mockett, in yellow shirt, drags a piece of driftwood to a growing pile on the beach fronting Morgan’s Ponds at Lydgate Park Saturday.

  • Bill Buley / The Garden Island

    Michael Patricio carries a chunk of driftwood during Saturday’s beach cleanup at Lydgate Park.

  • Bill Buley / The Garden Island

    Kimberly Corpuz, center, and Dezarae Fernandez help clean driftwood from the beach at Morgan’s Pond at Lydgate Park on Saturday.

WAILUA — When he heard volunteers were needed to help clean up a massive mess of debris at Morgan’s Ponds at Lydgate Park, Rod Mockett didn’t hesitate. Saturday morning, he was there.

“I love Lydgate. I come here regularly, and I like to be part of the community,” he said.

The Kapaa man joined about 75 people as they carried and dragged driftwood from the shoreline for about four hours on a cloudy, windy day.

Mockett was glad to do his part, but shook his head as he laughed and said, “it’s an amazing amount of work.”

Yes, it was, agreed Tommy Noyes, organizer with The Friends of Kamalani and Lydgate Park. All the more reason he appreciated so many coming out.

“I was wondering if people would have the willpower to get out of bed and face the wind and rain, but here they are,” he said.

The driftwood of all sizes that filled the popular swimming and snorkeling area was brought in by the storm that hammered Kauai on Christmas. It’s happened before, and it will happen again, so Noyes and friends know what to do.

Piece by piece, the driftwood has to go, with people and machines doing the heavy lifting. The county dispatched a backhoe operator to assist operations, as the wood was piled high, and eventually transferred to trucks and hauled off.

“You can see we’re real close in to getting all the little stuff moved away,” Noyes said.

Volunteers play a key role, he said.

“There’s nothing that will naturally move this material out of the pond,” he said.

Friends Kimberly Corpuz and Dezarae Fernandez teamed up as they filled a mesh tarp with driftwood, then carried it to a nearby pile, where they unloaded it and went back for more.

Slowly, but surely, they made a difference.

“It was really bad this morning, but we have gotten like half the beach cleaned up,” said Fernandez, home on a break from college in Texas. “I’m really excited for it to be clean.”

Loya Anne Bevan-Whitmer pitched in as she carried driftwood piece by piece from the shoreline. The Lihue woman comes to Lydgate for a drumming circle on Fridays, so she was glad to help.

“I like to keep this clean because my granddaughter is coming later this month to swim and snorkel and you can’t snorkel with all the wood in the water, you know,” she said.

Bevan-Whitmer surveyed the scene around her and smiled.

“So many people helping. It’s such a miracle,” she said.

Tides are expected to bring in more material, but Noyes wasn’t worried.

“It tends to concentrate on the south end of the beach given the prevailing winds and currents,” he said.

While not all the driftwood piles were removed Saturday, Noyes said he hopes resources will be mobilized again soon to complete the task.

“Another day,” he said. “Whether it’s volunteer or county machinery and employees — to be determined.”


Bill Buley, editor-in-chief, can be reached at 245-0457 or

  1. Doug January 12, 2020 10:08 am Reply

    The Friends of Kamalani show up every Saturday at 8:30, and should be there again next Saturday; let’s all show up again next Saturday and finish the job, at least get the beach completely clean and the wood in piles.

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