Molokai Volunteer Assists with Mainland Hurricane Relief
Molokai resident and Red Cross volunteer Lester Keanini has deployed to the East Coast along with 16 other Red Cross workers from Hawaii to assist with Hurricane Dorian. The storm hit the Bahamas as a Category 5 hurricane on Sept. 1 and made its way up the East Coast of the U.S., making landfall in North Carolina on Sept. 6.
The Red Cross reported that more than 9,000 people stayed in 140 Red Cross and community evacuation shelters in Florida, Georgia and South Carolina as the storm approached. More than 1,900 trained Red Cross responders from all over the country are helping to support relief efforts. Keanini is currently in South Carolina, helping with sheltering.
He has a long history of service with the Red Cross, including several deployments to the mainland. He joined the Red Cross as a volunteer in 2008 and was assigned as the Molokai Disaster Action Team Leader.
“Through passion and hard work, he started with a small group of volunteers and was able to grow and lead the team to respond to disasters and engage in preparedness projects and community education events,” said Coralie Chun Matayoshi, CEO for the Red Cross Pacific Islands Region. “Lester has also helped with many local disasters, most recently with the Kilauea eruption and Hurricanes Lane and Olivia.”
In 2011, when the Japan earthquake and tsunami caused damage to homes on Molokai and Maui, Lester and his team identified 25 families who needed Red Cross assistance and ensured that their immediate emergency needs were met, according to Matayoshi. The following year, he traveled to the mainland for his first deployment to assist with disaster response for Hurricane Isaac, where he delivered supplies and assisted with shelter management.
In 2014, Keanini was honored as a Red Cross Hero at the organization’s annual statewide Heroes Breakfast event.
In 2017, he was deployed for two more national disasters, the Southern California wildfire and Hurricane Harvey.
Matayoshi called his service to the community “remarkable.”
“His true and humble humanitarian spirit makes us all proud!” she said.