Five months after Tropical Storm Darby, families return home

Five months after Tropical Storm Darby, families return home
(Image: Hawaii News Now)
(Image: Hawaii News Now)

KALIHI (HawaiiNewsNow) - Christmas came early for some residents at the Hale Umi Condominiums in Kalihi.

After five months of being displaced, they were able to move back into their homes on Saturday.

"It's been a long journey, but you know, we're here," said Joseph Aiello.

The Aiellos were one of at least seven families forced to evacuate in July, when the Kalihi Stream overflowed into their homes during the peak of Tropical Storm Darby. It damaged furniture and left many bottom-level units unlivable.

The Aiellos have spent the last five months sharing one room at another family member's house in Waikele while their condo underwent renovations.

New floors, doors and kitchen cabinets were installed.

Some brand new appliances and furniture were graciously donated.

"God will send his angels and he did because we got help," said Aiello.

Zoe, 12, is excited to have her own room again. "My bed is going to be where I'm standing and I'm pretty sure my drawer is going to be right there," she said.

While the family is grateful to be back, they worry about the next time a storm hits.

Moving forward, they're asking the city to do a better job at keeping the stream clear of trash and debris to prevent another disaster.

"Is it going to happen again?" asked Faith Aiello. "What do we do? Are we going to lose our stuff? I got to make sure my daughter is OK."

"It's not our stream," Joseph Aiello said. "We shouldn't be living in fear."

Hawaii News Now reached out to the city for comment, but didn't receive an immediate response.

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