The eruption of Kilauea on the big island has captured news, but before the fissures and eruptions, there was another disaster troubling The Aloha State: floods. Right in the middle of the rescue efforts was Laird Hamilton. The world-class big wave surfer was right at home in his new role on the water, and helped rescue numerous stranded families.
“We tried not to let the kids see, but I was terrified,” Erin Gwilliam told reporters. Her family was one of the ones stranded back in April.
And Laird Hamilton came to the rescue. “The famous big wave surfer has spent days coordinating rescues after severe rain struck last weekend, causing mudslides and power outages on the island of Kauai, where he lives,” CNN writes. “The resulting floodwaters have forced hundreds of people to evacuate.”
“If you have compassion, this is what you do,” Hamilton said. “These are opportunities to make a difference, when it really counts.”
More than 400 people were airlifted from Kauai in the first days after rainfall of more than 30 inches swamped roads and cut off evacuation routes.
Since it is an island, though, there were places where boats could reach people. “It allowed me to have access to the water,” he said. “I was able to support farmers, help some people off their roofs and get them what they need.”
“Hamilton also rescued 15 girls from the home of fellow surfer Leila Hurst, and lent his boat launch to members of the National Guard, who used the location as a departure point for their own rescue operations,” CNN adds.
Hamilton was also part of a bison rescue, too. More than 80 head of bison were stranded and Hamilton was there.
“We were just going around in boats, tying them and towing them, trying to get them back into pasture,” Hamilton said.
“People don’t know the level of intensity of what’s happened here,” Hamilton said. “There are people who have lost everything. The power, the length and the strength of this: It’s unlike anything that I’ve ever seen.”
“In Hawaii we have a word called ‘ohana.’ It means family,” Hamilton said. “Family and friends banding together. It’s a pretty wonderful thing. This would have been much worse had we not all banded together here. That’s ohana.”