The overwhelming initial community response to the flood of April 14-15 was impressive to many. However, community leaders are saying the volunteer groups are now winding down and new volunteers are needed, according to a news release by the nonprofit Malama Kaua‘i.
“At the beginning of our efforts I saw 10-25 work crew volunteers per day; today we don’t see any except for groups on the weekend,” says Megan Wong, a resident who stepped up immediately to help direct work crews responding to affected victims’ homes and yards across the North Shore. “Cleanup is still a great need. We have many different projects and the ability and need to set up many groups of volunteers.”
Team Rubicon is a local team of military veterans who brought regional disaster response teams from the west coast in an immediate mission to ‘muck out’ homes and help with cleanup efforts. They contributed close to 5,000 man-hours, with a team of approximately 32, on projects across the island before being decommissioned.
“Working with the truly amazing community volunteers made our response quicker and more effective than any other disaster response I’ve been a part of,” said Rick Mosley, Deputy District Coordinator. “While we can’t do it all, it is our hope that we have given those affected families a jump start to recovery.”
Malama Kaua‘i is seeking camping spaces to host off-island volunteers skilled in trades such as construction, plumbing, mechanics, and electrical work to help fill existing needs across the island. They have requested support from the county for approval to allow temporary camping at various locations through the summer, and are encouraging anyone with space to host a local displaced family (their top priority), or short-term skilled volunteers to contact their Flood Relief Hotline at 828-0685 x22.
“We’re looking at hundreds of homes that have been damaged, and without FEMA supported individual financial assistance, the community still really needs all the help it can get,” said Megan Fox, Executive Director of Malama Kaua‘i. “We also don’t want to see dozens of off-island volunteers taking up affordable accomodations which many more residents are in need of right now. It’s a tricky balance.” The organization has a sign-up sheet for skilled laborer volunteers on the “Kauai Flood Relief” page at malamakauai.org.
Samaritans Purse, an off-island relief organization that arrived on Kaua‘i on April 24, is still gathering at Hanalei Courthouse Monday through Saturday at 7:30 a.m. for deployment into the field for half-day or full-day service projects. Volunteers are encouraged to bring their own lunch; wear work gloves, boots, and safety glasses if possible; and call the day before to RSVP at (808) 720-0605. Their 20 regular volunteers are expected to stay on island until the end of July to assist with cleanup, repair, and rebuilding efforts.
“It’s an incredibly resilient community,” said Todd Taylor, Assistant Manager of US Relief at Samaritans Purse. “Many of these homes do not have means to recover on their own. We rely on volunteers to get this work done, so please consider partnering with us to provide much needed assistance to those affected.”