After losing home to fire, Nanakuli family finds hope in ashes - Hawaii News Now - KGMB and KHNL

After losing home to fire, Nanakuli family finds hope in ashes

NANAKULI, OAHU (HawaiiNewsNow) -

Five days ago, a Nanakuli family of 13 lost their home in a raging blaze.

But for the family's patriarch, his two daughters, their husbands, and all of their kids, losing everything has taught them the value of community.

The Kaawa family says neighbors and community organizations have come together to lend them a helping hand -- or pick up a broom.

"We have a motto here in Nanakuli called 'Defend the Valley.' And before, it was when we used to go to football games. But to me, ‘Defend the Valley’ doesn't just pertain to our football team. It pertains to the people who live in this community," said Jocelyn Hiapo, one of the daughters. "Because they did, our valley came together, for each other, for us."

For now, the family sleeps in a tent next to their charred home on Palikea Street.

The youngest child in the clan is seven months old. Most of the children were home when the fire erupted.

"My niece came out from the back room and she said, ‘Aunty, do you smell smoke,'" said Jennifer Halemano, Hiapo’s sister.

"And I looked up and then I just saw it coming hazy in our hallway. So I ran through the hallway and then when I looked under the front corner room, I seen the flames coming out from under the door," Halemano said.

Halemano screamed for everyone to get out, and they did, including the family pet, Brutus.

The fire quickly engulfed the house and everything they owned was lost.

However, shock and defeat quickly turned to surprise and gratitude as truckloads of donations started rolling in.

"For a family who lost everything, just the littlest things meant the world to us," said Hiapo.

Halemano added, "Every single day our spirits are getting lifted higher and higher and higher."

The Kaawa family said they did not have home insurance and they will have to tear everything down and rebuild.

But they say they'll never forget all those who came out to help them when they needed it the most -- and they vow to pay it forward.

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