Tag Archives: disaster

Aloha in the Aftermath of Iselle


The Puna district on the East side of Hawaii Island took a direct hit from Tropical Storm Iselle on August 7th. Here’s what every other street in my neighborhood looked like.



In our case the power was out for five days. Got our internet back a couple days after that.

And we were one of the lucky ones: we were well prepared for the worst-case scenario and, thanks to the fortuitous direction of the winds, we suffered minimal damage.

Unfortunately, not so for all our neighbors. The good news is that no one died from the storm, truly amazing in light of the devastation, especially if you see what happened in Kapoho.

But even dire situations have an upside. Witnessing so many acts of kindness in our community from friends, neighbors and complete strangers has been uplifting and inspiring. For whatever reason, disasters seem to bring out the best in people. In our case, on two different days two different strangers showed up at our front gate with free ice. We didn’t need it but their kindness and selflessness made us feel wonderful. (On both occasions we humbly accepted the ice then paid it forward by sharing with our elderly Japanese neighbors.)

Our Kona friends and island neighbors also pitched in. A shout out to Hawaiian Airlines for doing their part in flying over pallets of bottled water donated by Hawaiian Isles Water Company. (Mahalo HIWC!) Another shout out to Kona’s Liz Heiman for rallying her neighbors around Puna in a time of need. Also special thanks to Mike Sato (Reptillian Tank) and friends who organized Ride the Breaks and solicited donations for Puna. And last but not least, a heartfelt mahalo to local comedian Augie T who showed up at Maku’u farmer’s market to lift people’s spirits and raise awareness for the cause.

I’d be remiss not to mention all the hardworking folks at HELCO who made things happen very quickly. I’ve never been a big fan, but have to give them their props on this one: they stepped up their game working late into the night under tough conditions, even during heavy downpours. Very impressive how quickly they restored our power, so a big mahalo from all of us.


Thanks to lots of hardworking folks our personal situation is now stable here in Pahoa. But lots of other folks are still without water and electricity. Help from both inside and outside is still needed and much appreciated.

It will take time for Puna to recover. But our community has pulled together and we’re stronger for it. Didn’t realize just how tight-knit we could be until this happened, the proverbial blessing disguised as a disaster.

In light of the massive scale of devastation, Puna’s pace of recovery is much faster than anyone had anticipated (although admittedly the folks in remote and devastated Kapoho might beg to differ–my heart goes out to all of them).

I can only speak for myself, but the aloha around me continues to inspire. Didn’t think it was possible, but I love this place even more than I did before. So proud and thankful to be part of this community.

Copyright © Tim Sullivan 2014


The Power of Hula to Uplift Japan

It’s wonderful when I can find a way to tie together Hawaii and Japan in the same post, even better when I can work in a hula theme during this wonderful time of year in Hawaii that we call “Merrie Monarch week”.

For readers who aren’t aware, Hawaiian culture is booming in Japan, especially hula. According to Hawaii Tourism Japan, over 400,000 people in Japan are studying hula. That’s an incredible number, more than the total number of hula dancers in all of Hawaii they say.

But as you might imagine, in the last month not much hula dancing was happening in Eastern Japan, certainly not Iwaki City.

And yet twenty nine very resilient Japanese ladies from Iwaki are already back practicing their passion. This is incredible in light of what they’ve gone through. I could try describing what happened to their city, but this clip says it better than I ever could:

For the geographically challenged, Iwaki is in the southern part of Fukushima.

To get a feel for the scale of the town, it’s the 10th largest city in Japan with a population just shy of 350,000 people. And as you saw in the video above, it took some serious hits from the disaster.

But these hula dancers–many who lost their homes in the tsunami–refuse to let a disaster stop them from dancing. They already have plans to re-start hula lessons in a facility on the premise of a local hot-springs resort called, appropriately, “Spa Resort Hawaiians”.

But before doing so, they are going to take their hula show on the road. Their objective: inspire the rest of Japan with the power of hula!

As you might expect from the Japanese work ethic and attention to detail, the ladies are working hard to do the hula tradition proud. The leader of the hula group, Yukari Kato, summed up the goal of the tour: “we want to tap into the power of dance and inspire the rest of Japan by showing that Iwaki City is working hard, in high spirits and smiling.”

The power of hula–and the power of Japanese women–never cease to amaze and inspire me. These ladies have some serious “mana” happening!

Hawaii can take pride in the fact that its ancient tradition is helping uplift our Japanese friends during very tough times.

(Source: NHK News. Unfortunately the original link to the source article no longer provides access.)

Copyright © Tim Sullivan 2011