Helping others in times of need. It's the Kauai way to recover from disasters

LIHUE, KAUAI (HawaiiNewsNow) - On the first weekend since torrential rains prompted historic flooding across parts of Kauai, residents and visitors on the Garden Isle spent Saturday helping neighbors recover from the storm's destruction.

Along the island's north shore, where the flooding devastated homes and businesses, the president of the Hanalei Canoe Club says almost all of the organizations outrigger and one-man canoes were either lost after being swept out to sea or destroyed by the severe weather.

"We have 13 canoes; 9 of them are gone. So those will have to be replaced," said Heidi Low. "Everything in the hale, none of that is insured, so our showers, our sinks, our fridges, our printer... All these random things we're still recognizing that we lost."

Low says she remembers walking into the canoe hale for the first time after storm.

"I had some idea of what to expect, but it's nothing like when you actually walk into it," Low said. "Just the eerie quiet, and walking in and seeing hundreds of fish out on the grass."

Canoe clubs from across the island showed up in Hanalei on Saturday to help Low and her paddlers tend to their clubhouse. One club, she says, even cancelled an appearance in a regatta to come help and provide lunch.

"We had almost 100 people here coming to help, and I don't recognize half of them," she said. "But they're here doing what they can to help us."

On Saturday, that included pulling mud-soaked carpets and other debris from the river behind the club's canoe hale. Miles down the road in Anahola, a similar community clean-up -- this one, involving roughly 200 volunteers -- was organized at a property that was also devastated by the flood.

Crews worked to cut through downed trees. Some of the trunks measured nearly six feet in diameter. They loaded them onto flatbed trucks so that they could be taken away. Heavy machines picked up rocks and boulders and returned them to the riverbed from which they had been displaced by the sheer enormity of the flood.

The assistance extended beyond physical clean-ups. In Lihue, the Kauai branch of the Hawaii Food Bank was holding its 29th annual food drive and collecting donations for flood victims.

"The outpouring of support is just unbelievable," said Michelle Panoke, of the Hawaii Food Bank Kauai Branch. "Not only from the locals, but from the mainland. We've been getting calls from the mainland from the neighbor islands."

Ultimately, Panoke says during times of crisis, the people of Kauai can always count on one another to take care of their own.

We have so much stuff already stored at the warehouse that people have been bringing (food) in and it's going out to everybody who needs it on the island," said Panoke.

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