HILO, BIG ISLAND (HawaiiNewsNow) - A thunderstorm that took their roof was just the start for a Hilo family that now has no place to live and no renter's insurance.
The strong winds from the storm sent the corrugated roof nearly the length of a football field from the Hoopuni Street home on Monday.
Captain Dekoning was renting the house with his wife and five children. Dekoning is actually a Hawaii County firefighter who was on duty at the Hilo fire station when the call came in that a roof had flown off a home.
"And maybe about eight seconds later my cell phone rang with my daughter, crying hysterically, saying, 'Dad, our house is ruined,' my roof flew off," said Dekoning.
The call came from Cap Dekoning's oldest girl, 15-year-old Selena, who was home with his youngest, just five years old.
"They just heard a loud 'boom," and then all the drywall on the ceiling ended up crashing down, and my oldest one -- it's a miracle -- ended up jumping on my younger one and covering her while drywall fell down from the ceiling," he said.
Dekoning said the family has lost nearly all of their personal possessions. Unfortunately, they had just canceled their renters insurance to save money.
Insurance brokers like Michael Lodge of Finance Insurance said most policies cost less than $200 a year, and are well worth keeping.
"If you have to replace a TV or a bed or something, it's at today's cost, and they'll actually replace it, usually at today's cost," said Lodge.
And then there's the immediate problem of where to stay.
"If they have to move out because of a flood or fire, they have some protection so they can live somewhere else without being totally out of pocket," said Lodge.
In the Dekonings' case, the American Red Cross is putting them up in a Hilo hotel, but only for three nights.
And there's another tough break.
"The landlord called us up today, saying that we have until tomorrow to get everything out of the house, we're not responsible for anything of your items," Dekoning told us the landlord said. "'If you leave anything in the house it will just be thrown away tomorrow morning.'"
As of late Wednesday afternoon, the Dekonings can't even get in the home. Cap Dekoning said the landlord cut off access until his insurance agent can assess the damage.
The landlord declined comment.
Meanwhile, a friend has set up a fund on PayPal to help the family, under: email@example.com.