Power in Community: Relief for Kauai
Lizzy Fowler was one of the epic interns who graduated from the Spring 2018 class. While in Kauai these last few weeks, she’s experienced firsthand how the community has bonded and come together during the rainstorms and floods, seeking to rebuild their communities and homes. Read on for some heartfelt and encouraging stories during her hands-on experience of the natural disaster.
During my time at Surfing the Nations someone once said “adventure starts when everything goes wrong.” These past few weeks have proven this statement to be true. I never expected to experience a natural disaster in one of the most beautiful islands in the world; yet in this disaster I also witnessed deep beauty in people uniting and rebuilding. When I first arrived in Kauai I really wanted an opportunity to serve the people of Kauai. The rain began during my first night on the island, my home shook from the thunder, and I knew this wasn’t any ordinary storm. Within a day more than 28 inches of rain flooded the island. This abundance of rain was soon entitled the 100 year flood as it transformed the north shore of Kauai. The devastation was everywhere: families evacuated, others stranded, homes were underwater, schools flooded, cars and houses slid down mountains, while landslides and sinkholes formed. Yet through all of this the people and military were still throwing shakas and smiles as they came together to begin restoring their island.
Each day I would enter the most damaged areas and ask how I could help. Hearing of one valley which was utterly destroyed, I drove down to check it out. Of all the houses I felt drawn to one closest to the water. This location became powerful to me because it’s where I met a true hero, this woman’s name is Carrie. Since her home was in a tsunami zone, tidal waves had rushed into her house while the river overflowed, causing the water to rise until neck deep. Before evacuating Carrie swam into her house to rescue her golden retriever, trapped and shaking on her bed and surrounded by water. After rescuing her dog they ran up the hill only to sleep in her car for the night while the rain persisted.
Together, Carrie and I cleaned the remains of her home, finding encouragement in the way the foundation of her home was still standing and in the companionship of her dog. Carrie is a true hero to me. She not only remained strong in the face of chaos and devastation, she also aided those around her, such as her neighbor’s family. As I spent time with her, I found she was filled with hope, optimism, and miracle stories. She is the just one of the many miracle stories I was privileged to experience while in Kauai.
While a crew and I were cleaning up a contaminated, mud-filled preschool I experienced a deep sense of community once again. We had to rip up old floors, tear down walls, and throw away most of the kids supplies. Even as we tore down water-damaged walls from the 1970s, a well-known surfer and his family walked up to the scene and offered to fund the expenses for a new wall and assist in its reconstruction. This experience is an unforgettable one, reminding me of the power of community.
Despite the tragedy and aftermath of this natural disaster the spirits of the people and the unity which came because of it, encouraged me. The world is truly a better place because of communities like the North Shore of Kauai, hero’s like Carrie, and the light that shines even in the face of dark circumstances.
To donate to relief programs and get more involved, check the links recommended below. The first is run entirely by and used only for the local community, the second being for the school where Lizzy volunteered.