Tsunami-Sized Community Help
by Ted Kanemitsu
Boy, what an exciting evening we had, wouldn’t you say? Last night I was called upon to open up the Molokai High School gym which is designated an emergency shelter. Working with the Department of Accounting and General Services (DAGS) Maui Division, it is our responsibility to make sure the location is available during such emergencies. However, I am not writing about DAGS; we are public servants, and it is our duty to respond in situations like this. But rather I’m writing how Molokai always seems to come together during times like these.
As you know, Molokai does not have a regular Red Cross station. So when disaster strikes, it is left up to other agencies to provide the much needed assistance. We had the Lanai High School softball team who had to evacuate the National Guard armory, about 20 or so visitors to the island who were staying at various beach front locations, three busloads of elderly folks from Home Pumehana accompanied by the MEO staff, and a few local families, latter to be joined by the people seeking shelter at Kualapu`u School. Stanford Hao, principal of MHS also ended up staying the entire night.
Because of the lack of communication and preparedness, there was no comfort features available. Namely sleeping cots, snacks, and stuff like that. Aunty Ruby from Uplink at Molokai Middle School volunteered her time and effort to put together some snacks, drinks, and saimin for those waiting out this ordeal. She even baked a cake. The fire department came with sleeping cots for the elderly, and stood by to assist with the crowd. Scotty Schaffer was also on hand to provide EMS support, as well as Detective Santiago.
In the course of the evening, people were asking for coffee. Not only to keep warm, but to stay awake as some gathered in front of the TV anxiously waiting for updates. Unfortunately, there was no coffee on hand. Mrs. Yuen from Kualapu`u Market went out of her way to provide coffee, crackers, along with confections and paper goods at no charge to the public. Believe me, the above acts of kindness from these individuals made all the difference to those who had nowhere else to go.
A big mahalo to all of them, and those alike who helped out in this time of crisis.