Aloha mai kākou,
As everyone knows, Kaua‘i was hit with devastating rains and flooding on April 15th, 2018. The damage done was immense. A portion of Kuhio Highway (the only route for vehicular access to the north shore) was completely washed away by flooding, leaving people essentially trapped in Wainiha and Hā‘ena. The need for assistance with goods and recovery efforts is massive.
I was able to participate in some of these relief efforts when I traveled by boat to the north shore to help deliver goods including fuel that OHA had purchased. What I witnessed really hit my heart, I saw people in survival mode. Most troubling was the devastation of Native Hawaiian homes and the loss of vehicles, farms and livestock. Many beneficiaries have no income coming in due to being land locked and or the loss of their businesses. Keiki have been unable to attend school. Lo‘i has been destroyed, and today the ditches need to be cleaned and cleared so that water can get to the kalo. Moreover, many ‘ohana on kuleana lands do not have homeowner‘s insurance and are trying to figure out how they are going to rebuild.
OHA must work with other organizations and agencies to ensure that the relief resources that are coming in by the container load reach our NH beneficiaries. We must also work to ensure that financial resources that are accumulating reach those beneficiaries as well. I am hoping that by the time this article is published, OHA trustees will have agreed upon an action plan that allows our staff to provide assistance and help our beneficiaries navigate this stressful and complicated process.
I am hopeful that OHA trustees will do the right thing and prioritize this relief effort by assisting in creating a fund that will serve our NH communities, small-businesses, family run kalo farms and kuleana land owners who need the most help in their efforts to rebuild, as well as free up OHA staff to assist in helping beneficiaries navigate the rebuild process. Our NH communities and beneficiaries are resilient – they just need the tools and assistance to move forward.