For those of you who do not already know, my family and I live on the Big Island of Hawaii. Several months ago we were hit with a hurricane....head on. The damage was mind blowing and even now, months later, evidence is still all around us of the devastation that was left in its wake.
The bigger story in my mind, however, is how the community rallied around those in need! It was really heartwarming.
|A once thick forest|
Thursday was much like any other day with the exception of the stores being jam packed due to the impending storm. We had a hurricane threat on Oahu last year that turned out to be little more than a short drizzle so we were not overly concerned. I went to the store, got a couple bottles of water, some batteries, and a couple small flashlights so there would be no fighting over the 1 we already had once the power faded.
We watched people buying up the store, taping up their windows, and boarding doors. We joked at how silly it all was...famous last words!
I expected some wind and some rain and I even figured the power would go out, as even in a mild wind and rain storm we have lost power a few times. But this was not at all what I was expecting. We went to the ocean, which is only a mile from my house several times throughout the day and we were amazed at what we saw. Each outing the water was higher, the waves were rougher, and the general sentiment of the onlookers increasingly became infused with concern. Could this storm actually be hitting us?? Check out this video I took at the water around 6pm. Bear in mind the actual storm did not hit until after midnight.
For some perspective the following pics are a progression of a typical clear day, 12 hours out, and then 8 hours out. Crazy right?! We didn't take any video closer to the storm hitting because it got seriously scary out there and a huge tree dropped on our road. We were officially stuck!
The evening was really quite scary. The winds kicked up, power went out, and all we could hear was the whistle of wind followed by the crack of one tree after another. That is until the roof on our porch started flapping, slamming up and down on the framework each time the wind blew. This was the first time any of us had experienced a hurricane and honestly I was a bit nervous.
We lost electricity pretty early on and spent the night listening to trees crack and fall. I believe it was around midnight when Dylan and I looked at each other with that, "holy shit we were not expecting this" look followed by bets all around on how long the power would be out. We quickly realized that we grossly downplayed what this storm would do. It wasn't until 2 days later that we realized we took an almost direct hit!
The next morning we woke to some light rain and no electricity, as expected. After enjoying some coffee made by my brilliant husband with some tea lights,a toaster rack, and a mug we were itching to get out and see what all those snapping trees were about.
What we discovered was entirely shocking, a landscaped changed forever by fallen albezia trees. These trees are an invasive species that grow too fast for their own good making them weak and prone to breaking and uprooting. Add in hurricane force winds and you have a whole lot of destruction.
Initially we were trapped on our small road, trees down on the main roads in all directions. But as we stood there taking photos we started to notice we were not alone. Nearly everyone in the area was out, but not just gawking at the destruction they were working! Neighbors with chainsaws helped neighbors without, people with lawn tractors or mini excavators came out and with no outside help at all cleared all the main roads so that most people could at least get out and get to stores or where ever they needed to go. I suspected we were not the only ones ill prepared. It was heartwarming really to see the community pull together to help all around them in need.
|The grocery store became a meeting place to hear about how each community was faring|
|The line for free ice and water|
|National Guard patrolling our neighborhood|
|Appreciation was everywhere|
As soon as power was restored we made ice as fast as we could and donated it along with water to those still affected. Many, many people did this as their power was restored. All around there were people giving out hot meals and facebook groups organizing so everyone would be helped. It was a difficult time for many but there was so much help and a true feeling of ohana (family) throughout the entire area! It really made all the difference!