It was known as the "Garden Island." But Hurricane Iniki left the Hawaiian island of Kauai appearing like a garden trampled and shredded by thousands of elephants.
Despite the devastation of the tropical storm, which struck Sept. 11 with winds reaching 160 miles an hour, Latter-day Saints are reaching out to help members and non-members to clean up and rebuild. Even various relief agencies are turning to the Church here for help in distributing food and supplies, said local Church officials.Elder Jack H Goaslind of the Seventy and F. Earl Matheson, area Welfare Services director, arrived on Kauai Sept. 15 and toured much of the island with a group of Church leaders from Kauai and Oahu.
A member of the North America West Area presidency, Elder Goaslind later told the Church News he was pleased with the response of the members here, and had "deep feelings of appreciation for priesthood and auxiliary leaders who have done so much to rebuild and raise the spirits of the people."
The needs here are many as a result of the hurricane, which caused severe damage on Kauai. Pres. James P. Davey of the Kauai Hawaii Stake related that 1,000 homes had been demolished on the island. The islands of Oahu and Hawaii were also affected, although less severely.
Elder Donald L. Hallstrom, regional representative, reported that about 10 percent of members' homes on Kauai were destroyed, 30 percent were seriously damaged, while many others received moderate or minor damage. Three of the five meetinghouses on the island were seriously damaged; the other two meetinghouses received minor damage.
Four people died as a result of the storm. No members or missionaries were killed or injured. There are about 2,300 members on Kauai. (Please see Sept. 19 Church News for early report of the hurricane.)
Testimony meetings were held in four of the five meetinghouses on Sunday, Sept. 13. Pres. Davey said, "We all felt blessed to have been preserved."
Elder Goaslind inspected four meetinghouses - of which the Kalaheo building received the worst damage with portions of its roof torn off. He also visited the homes of several members. Then he and the other leaders held a meeting to discuss relief efforts, which included locating and getting an inventory of available resources - either through the Church or through relief agencies - and matching those resources with the needs of the members.
Elder Goaslind said any supplies needed in the relief effort that were not available on Kauai would be shipped from the Church on Oahu or from the mainland.
After returning to Salt Lake City, Elder Goaslind said, "The attitude of the members is miraculous." He told of his visit to the home of stake patriarch Libert K. Nakaahiki and his wife, Mary. The roof had been torn off their home. "How they survived the hurricane is amazing considering the debris laying around. I shook the hands of Brother Nakaahiki and his wife and asked how they were. She said, `We're not complaining.' "
Elder Goaslind said Brother Nakaahiki told him, " `We're concerned with what we can do to help others.' "
Helping others seems to be the general attitude among members. Elder Hallstrom said that the Church has been cooperating with several relief agencies. "These agencies find the Church to be an excellent source of cooperation because of the widespread nature of our units. And I believe they appreciate the integrity with which Church members operate," he explained.
He said that Americares, a non-profit, private relief agency, has been using the stake center and other meetinghouses as distribution centers for medical supplies and food. In addition, the Salvation Army has been using the Hanalei Branch meetinghouse as a distribution center for such things as canned goods and baby diapers.
He added that medical teams from the mainland have been using portions of the Hanalei building for examination rooms. And the Red Cross has been using the multi-purpose room of the Kalaheo Ward to interview hurricane victims.
"Missionaries are going around helping people clean up - both members and non-members," Elder Hallstrom explained. He said Hawaii Honolulu Mission Pres. Marlin A. Fairbourn was planning to send 10 additional elders to Kauai, which would bring a total of 22 missionaries helping in relief efforts.
Elder Hallstrom pointed out that the main challenge in the rebuilding process is the geography of Kauai - being an island.
- Julie A. Dockstader, Church News staff writer, contributed to this article.