Letter of Aloha

FOUR TIMES A YEAR I have the privilege of gathering my thoughts and sharing them with each of you, here on the page we call The Letter of Aloha.

Today, I want to share a short story about a very personal experience I had while traveling to the mainland with my daughter, Lily. I had the honor of getting her settled into her new college dorm on the east coast. While I was there, folks back at home were preparing for a Category 5 hurricane to hit the islands. Even though 5,000 miles separated my Maui home and Lily’s new home at college, it felt odd to be away during a time of pending devastation. My thoughts turned to my son, Noah and his family, Jazmine and Nanette, concerned for their safety. I also thought about my friend and co-worker Shelly Ronen and her family, plus many other friends in our community. Would they all be ok? Would their homes withstand such a storm? Then, will they have enough to eat?

Soon photos, text messages and emails started pouring in about a fire in Lahaina, Maui. What about Hurricane Lane? I was confused and soon realized a different type of disaster was happening – one that no one was prepared for. Following this fire was news about how, within hours, the community rose up, came together and organized resources to help those in need. Then I thought about the rains and flooding on Kauai earlier in the year and recalled learning about how the community pulled together under the direction of a handful of people plus a few non-profits to help their community. Hawaii Island obviously suffered unimaginable loss this past year too with the volcano erupting and O’ahu was also in line of mother nature’s wrath this year with rain and flooding. Reflecting on each island’s challenges really got me thinking about food, food sovereignty and what will we all do when (not if) we’re faced with our next disaster. We all need to plan ahead now instead of waiting for disaster to strike, and Emergency Management is on my mind as I write today.

Don’t get overwhelmed, just start with yourself. Store enough food, clothing, and water for yourself, then add your family into your plan. Go talk to your neighbors, friends and community; get everyone involved and urge them to prepare too.

Please let this issue motivate you to act now and prepare for our next disaster. Be well, stay safe.

Dania Novack-Katz