Kokua Kauai: A Deluge of Support from the HSBA;
Lava Legal Clinic: An Outflow of Support for the Big Island
The terrible flooding and its catastrophic toll on Kauai last month was, according to the National Weather Service, the result of the heaviest recorded rainfall over a 24-hour period in our nation’s history.
The response from the HSBA membership also set a record. There has been an unprecedented deluge of donations of monetary contributions, food and other necessary flood relief items, and an outpouring of goodwill from our members.
Legal support clinics have been set up in various locations on the island. The Legal Aid Society of Hawaii has shared its expertise with Kauai attorneys who are willing to help in legal clinics, but lack the requisite training.
All sectors of the HSBA Ohana—lawyers from the private sector, government attorneys and the judiciary-- have opened their wallets and rolled up their sleeves to help. It would be impossible to acknowledge all who have participated so generously in the space afforded here. But special recognition must be made to Noah Gibson, who organized the YLD’s response, worked tirelessly with the HSBA to set up drop-off sites for donations, and obtained crucial support from his law firm to maximize the relief effort. On Kauai, HSBA director Kai Lawrence, with the assistance of Mauna Kea Trask, Allison Lee, Laurel Loo, Jonathan Chun, Becky Vogt Like, and so many others, spearheaded the Kauai lawyers’ response.
* * *
Just when it appeared that we started to turn the corner in the chaos that followed the torrential downpour on Kauai, a second major disaster erupted, this time on the Big Island.
Unlike the sudden, massive downpour on Kauai, followed by steadily receding water, the dramatic events on the Big Island unfolded slowly. It first appeared to be consistent with the unstoppable, though relatively benign, flow of lava experienced in recent years. The notice of an impending disaster was not fully recognized initially. Madame Pele announced her first appearance with some small fissures in the landscape near Pahoa. The pace of volcanic activity was leisurely, and no homes were immediately affected. Then the flow of lava increased inexorably in magnitude. Within days, there were an increasing number of eruptions, each more volatile. The flow of lava entered the Leilani Subdivision. Homes were destroyed, and an increasing number of our Big Island neighbors were forced to evacuate. Now, there is the very real possibility of volcanic explosions in Kilauea that may cause additional, major damage to property and an increasing threat to life.
The Hawaii County Bar Association has been in contact with the HSBA in responding to the existing and impending catastrophes. Leaders of the Big Island bar who have stepped up include long-time HSBA board director Geraldine Hasegawa. County Bar President Sherilyn Tavares, Hawaii County Prosecutor Mitch Roth, Young Lawyers Division (YLD) representative Ryan Caday, Senior Counsel Division (SCD) representative Charlene Iboshi and many other dedicated attorneys on the Big Island are coordinating with the HSBA and LASH to provide the optimal delivery of legal services and other relief to the beleaguered residents and others affected by this latest challenge.
My apologies to the many selfless attorneys on Kauai and the Big Island, whose names should be included, but are not mentioned here. We have seen the best of ourselves in our members’ response to the Kauai disaster. We continue to see our best again, as we respond to the needs of our neighbors on the Big Island. In doing this, we are fulfilling that part of our mission statement: to inspire Hawaii’s lawyers to serve the public.