The Hawaiian Island of Kauai experienced near record-setting rainfall last weekend, causing severe flooding and landslides. Houses, schools and a church were damaged, roads lost and residents evacuated, but the U.S. Coast Guard and American Red Cross aren’t the only ones to start relief efforts. Below, Mia Checkley (project assistant) tells the story of Layton’s Kauai crew jumping into action. Mia, along with Nic Clark (pre-construction manager), Istvan Fodor (superintendent), Phil Anderson (estimator), as well as six spouses and friends rounded out the group, with other Layton crew, including Brady Edwards (sr. project manager), helping out later in the week.

Living in Hawaii, you have several ohanas, or families. You have your family at home, your work ohana, your church ohana, and your community ohana.  When even one member of our ohana is in need, we feel it is our kuleana, or responsibility, to help.

Over the weekend, some of the Layton Kauai ohana members were texting about the storm and resulting devastation.  Nic Clark said “We should see if we could find some kind of service that Layton Construction could do to help this week.”  We all agreed and on Monday morning, we purchased shovels, trash bags, cleaning supplies, along with food and drink to share with anyone we might meet, waited to get a work assignment, and then Tuesday morning, we headed up north.

Our group spent the morning at Hanalei Elementary School. There, we cleaned the sports field out and the vegetable garden.  There was a large amount of debris tangled up on the soccer goals that needed to be cleared and hauled out, and two of our volunteers helped to sanitize all of the outdoor sports equipment.  Mind you, there was a brown water advisory due to the possible presence of dead animals, fecal matter and other delightful things.  The school had some picnic tables that floated away and needed to be removed from their vegetable garden, relocated, and cleaned off.  We were in shin-deep mud hefting wet, heavy picnic tables over a six-foot chain-link fence.  We also scooped three inches of mud from three tether ball courts and hauled it off, helped load debris into trucks, cleaned out a storage shed, and more.

Layton Hawaii’s clean-up crew spent a day serving their community, including cleaning the sports field and vegetable garden at an elementary school, where they hoisted heavy picnic tables over fences, scooped tons of mud and debris and sanitized equipment. Later in the day, they joined a human chain loading supplies into boats for people on the north shore cut off from the rest of the island by mudslides. They also helped clean a church and clothing store and fed several dozen volunteers and those in need.

Mid-day, we left the school and started to serve lunches to anyone we could find.  One of our volunteers, Irene, and I set up a makeshift buffet on the tailgate of a Layton truck and set out to feed as many people as possible. Down the road a bit, there were a few county workers at the transfer station hard at work.  We fed those eight weary workers, and then across the street, we fed another dozen or so folks at a local church.  While Irene and I were making lunches, the guys on our team helped pull up soaked, ruined carpet in a nearby church and hauled it to our trucks for disposal. They also helped the church folks clear sections of decking and sidewalk of inches of mud.

Then, we drove down to the beach where crews of volunteers had formed a human chain to move supplies from trucks to waiting boats.  There are countless people on the far north shore of the island who are completely cut off, as the only road north is blocked by multiple landslides.  These supplies of water, food, and other necessities are being boated in to people in these areas. Since we still had more food, we also fed some of these volunteers, as well as a group of cowboys who were in Hanalei rounding up a herd of bison that got loose on the beach. Yes, bison on the beach. In all, we fed about 40 people.

After that, our crew spent the next three hours helping clean up a local clothing store.  The store seemed to “take the brunt” of the rushing water, as it was the first building the water hit coming into Hanalei.  The waterline was about four feet high.  It used to be a pretty little boutique, but everything was ruined and the floors were covered in about two inches of water and mud.  The store owner had us bag up upwards of 100 trash bags full of wet clothing and help discard many wet and ruined items. When Istvan Fodor had to undress a mannequin, it got a little uncomfortable for all involved.  Lastly, we tackled the wet and muddy floors. It was quite a task.

In the end, though, the good goes around. Before our project, I didn’t own rain boots. Apparently neither did Nic Clark.  The morning of our relief effort, I called a locally owned shoe shop and asked if she could open early so we could purchase some boots and get on the road.  She opened early, helped me quickly pick out boots, and then refused to accept our payment.  She said she wished she could go help out, but since she could not, this was her small way of helping our Kauai Ohana.