High winds damage gathering area at Hawaiian immersion school

KANEOHE, OAHU (HawaiiNewsNow) - Strong winds caused considerable damage at the Samuel M. Kamakau Hawaiian Immersion School in Haiku Valley on Wednesday.

Kawika Wise was on campus at about 6:30 a.m., when the gusts began rushing down the Koolau mountain range.

"Two gusts of wind went by," he said. "The third one was the worst. It lifted the tarp up and just slammed it right down. All of these, this side of the poles were all bent right in."

The wind shredded a 20-foot-by-60-foot tarpaulin, twisting most of the metal poles that held it up.

The structure served as the school's outdoor multi-purpose area.

"It's our everything for our kids. It's our cafeteria. This is where they meet. This is where they have their singing. Everything happens here," Wise said.

There are 157 students at the school across all grade levels, from pre-K through high school. Lessons are taught in Hawaiian.

On Wednesday, the kids learned about loss.

"I am a little disappointed. That's where I hang out after school. Now I have to stay in my classroom," student Nahe Bailon said.

The school sits on 10 acres of land deep in the valley on Hawaiian homelands, where severe weather frequently comes and goes.

"It's been this calm since 6:40 this morning, when that wind came and took our tarp," Wise said.

The tarp was only a few months old. The school is on a tight budget, and administrators say they'll now have to raise $2,500 to buy a new one.

Click here to learn more about the school and donate.

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