By Léo Azambuja

The lava flow on the Big Island making its way to the ocean. Photo by USGS

The rain and subsequent flooding that pounded Kaua‘i and destroyed many homes and roadways in mid-April left a lot of people wondering if Mother Nature was taking back what was hers.

My take on it is quite simple. Regardless of what we built, the rain was going to come down anyway. Kaua‘i is known as the Garden Isle for a reason. It rains a lot here, causing our island to be greenest of all Hawaiian Islands.

Among the four main Hawaiian gods — Kū, Kāne, Lono and Kanaloa — Lono is associated with fertility, agriculture and, you guessed it right, rainfall. In old Hawai‘i, the rain would probably be seen as a sign of Lono. Okay, he might’ve got some help from Kanehekili, the God of Thunder, back in April. But it was the water that caused all that damage.

In anything that happens in nature, there is usually a counterforce providing a balance. So if it rained cats, dogs and wild pigs on this corner of the archipelago, the other corner was bound to set out fireworks. And that’s exactly what happened.

A three-quarter-acre property next to the Hanalei Pier purchased for $3 million by the Kaua‘i County Council in December 2010, as a expansion plan for Black Pot Beach Park, washed out during the April 14 flood. Photo by Léo Azambuja

A month after Lono showed face on Kaua‘i, Pele decided to balance things up on the Big Island. The Goddess of Fire put a spectacular display of beauty and destruction, spewing lava and gases, and sending bright-orange rivers of molten rock down the slopes of Kilauea Volcano. The lava altered the landscape at will, engulfing dozens of homes and properties on its way downhill toward the ocean.

Whether the fire and rain was the work of Lono and Pele, or just Mother Nature doing her thing, I think the message is clear. We are quite insignificant and powerless in the face of the forces of nature.

But there is another message too, a more powerful one. A message of aloha. Come rain or fire, moving earth or high winds, Hawai‘i residents will pull their resources together and spread aloha. We will help each other to get back on our feet.

If today our neighbors need help, tomorrow it might be us. Despite being threatened left and right by natural disasters, be it tsunamis, hurricanes, floods, landslides and exploding volcanoes, we always have the peace of mind that aloha is right next door.

Pele and Lono may use fire and rain to balance each other, but we have aloha to balance our communities in the aftermath of disaster.

And that is indeed a very powerful thing.