Lahaina’s community came out in droves to help Lahainaluna High School recover from the August brushfire during Hurricane Lane. This video from Lahianaluna Digital Media will brighten your day by showing you what a community-wide resilient spirit looks like.
The voices of those with disabilities need to be heard and included in all disaster preparedness planning. Here is a powerful article written by a wheelchair user who uses a ventilator on ways you can support people with disabilities as frequent natural disasters have become the worsening normal with climate change.
Climate change is real. Frequent natural disasters are the new normal. Right now, disabled advocates are working with communities all over the state connecting them to the help they need. Community organizations and informal networks need support coordinating services and providing direct assistance. Our lives are at stake and thoughts and prayers are not enough. Below are some ways you can support people with disabilities and the general population during these wildfires and the ones to come in the near future.
1. Ability Tools is a program of the California Foundation for Independent Living Centers, providing medical equipment, daily living aids, and technology to people in shelters who need them. They are currently taking donations, and you can contact them via Facebook or by calling 1-800-390-2699 (1-800-900-0706 TTY). Support them by donating money or equipment in good condition.
2. Donate to the Portlight Strategies/Partnership for Inclusive Disaster Strategies, a national organization on disability rights, accessibility and inclusion related to disaster operations. It manages a 24-hour disaster hotline for for people with disabilities and others with access and functional needs (1-800-626-4959 or firstname.lastname@example.org)
3. Give money to Mask Oakland, a volunteer group of queer disabled people delivering free N95 respirator masks to Oakland’s most vulnerable. They use donations to buy more masks and post receipts of all their purchases. Twitter: @MaskOakland; Venmo: @maskoakland.
4. Donate to the Northern California Fire Relief Fund by the North Valley Community Foundation to raise money to support the operations of organizations sheltering evacuees of the Camp Fire.
5. Give to Supplying Aid to Victims of Emergency (SAVE) program from the California Fire Foundation, which gives $100 gift cards to people impacted by wildfires including firefighters and civilians.
An excellent article by Dr. Clay Trauernicht, wildland fire specialist of University of Hawaii CTAHR Cooperative Extension and Pacific Fire Exchange.
Not only does he explain why wildfires in Hawaii have burned 30,000 acres in August 2018, (more than double the annual average), but that it was predictable and there is much people can do to prevent wildfires. Dr. Trauernicht specifically sites the Wildfire LOOKOUT! tips for wildfire prevention.
Vegetation may be the most problematic issue facing fire management in Hawaii. Simply put, our communities and forests now exist amid an ocean of fire-prone grasslands and shrublands — about a million acres statewide. This is mostly a consequence of benign neglect as the value of real estate outweighs the value of maintaining production landscapes. Our agricultural and ranching footprint has declined by more than 60 percent across the state….
So what can we do about it? Awareness and education is the first step. Multiple state and county agencies and non-profits are working on this via the Hawaii Wildfire Lookout! Campaign, spearheaded by the Department of Land and Natural Resources and Hawaii Wildfire Management Organization. Fire prevention education can reduce accidental fires. Homes can be “hardened” to reduce the risk of loss. Communities can become “firewise” and organize to take actions such as increasing access for firefighters and reducing hazardous fuels near homes.
Vegetation is in some sense the simplest issue to tackle because it is the only fire hazard we can directly manage. Yet it is also the most challenging due to the scale of the problem — the million acres of grasslands and shrublands across the state. There are multiple solutions for reducing risk in these fuels: fuel breaks, targeted grazing, prescribed fire, the restoration of agricultural and native ecosystems. There are also regulatory measures that can help such as firewise building and development codes.
Check out this letter to the editor from a former Firewise Co-Chair for Launiupoko, Ms. Linda Jenkins, who talks about their Firewise outreach efforts as a pathway forward.
”We completed assessments and provided all our neighbors with tips on how to make their homes and properties fire wise. An extensive public education campaign was conducted and we received our Firewise certification. We circulated tips on how to build a home and lay out a property to reduce fire risk. We also circulated tips on how to make your existing property and already built home safer.
This was successful in that many people made simple changes to their properties. I was also on the board at Makila and we maintained the sides of the bike path to create a fire break and kept our grass verges green.”
Farmers in the Pacific on the front-lines of climate-related natural disasters such as cyclones and wildfires. We must do all we can to ensure our farmlands are protected from these growing threats to our food and people’s livelihoods.
If you are a farmer or own/operate large lands in Hawaii and other Pacific Islands, check out the Pacific Fire Exchange pre-fire planning resources: http://www.pacificfireexchange.org/research-publications/category/pre-fire-planning?rq=pre-fire%20plan
As Hawaii begins to recover from the tropical cyclone that dumped more than three feet of rain onto the Big Island last week, farmers here are just starting to assess the damage to their crops. Lane landed yet another blow to Hawaii’s agriculture industry after an already difficult year of reckoning with Mother Nature. Flooding, excess moisture and pounding rains could hurt macadamia nut, coffee and flower harvests for farmers on the east side of the island, which bore the brunt of the storm.
Lane also impacted small farms on the island of Maui, where the storm’s winds fanned and spread wildfires across hundreds of acres in Lahaina.
In the days leading up to the hurricane, beekeeper Eldon Dorsett prepared his bee hives for the coming weather, putting heavy weights on the top of the boxes to keep them from blowing away.
Dorsett arrived at the farm Saturday morning and found 15 of his hives burned to a crisp — the only evidence of their existence was a few nails and screws on the still-smoldering ground.
“It was a rough day,” Dorsett said. “The farm was like the day after Armageddon.”
“No matter what happens, we need to keep moving forward,” said Haraguchi-Nakayama, whose family operates Hanalei Taro. “People in Hawaii are resilient by coming together as a community during times of crisis. Farmers are vulnerable to so many things beyond our control. Farmers need to be resilient in order to continue farming.”
“With the cooler and wetter weather, firefighters are focusing on mop-up and patrol of firelines,” a recent National Park Service media release stated. “They are also starting the process of back-haul, returning equipment and supplies used on the fire, by strategically bringing those resources back to be cleaned and refurbished. Additionally, fire crews are working with park biologists along the park boundary to assess fences and to carefully fall a limited number of trees that became hazards from the fire. Together they are also analyzing any potential impacts from the fire suppression efforts such as bulldozer lines that were created to stop the spread of the fire.”
Police are still looking for an arsonist they believe started four fires on Oahu's Leeward coast earlier this month.
Two of those fires burned 8,800 acres in Makaha and Waianae. The most destructive fire started in Waianae Valley just outside Ka Ala farm.
Eric Enos operates the cultural learning center there and says he has no doubts the fire was arson. He also says it's not the first time something like this has happened in the area.
Just down Waianae Valley Road, employees at Angels Scrap Yard estimate fires damaged about 90 percent of their inventory.
Several farmers in the area are also working to recover after fire burned over crops and damaged buildings.
He knows there is no quick fix, but Enos says putting a gate at the end of Waianae Valley Road could help keep track of people coming into the area, and deter criminals from entering.
"It's a hassle but if you look at the road, the stolen cars, the dumping, it adds up and it's millions of dollars worth of damage," Enos said.
A resilient spirit rises from the ashes. This hard-working family who lost their home in the Waianae Fire are showing what it means to stay positive even in the face of incredible trauma and loss.
Learn how you can protect your home and family with a few simple steps by downloading the Hawaii ReadySetGo! Wildland Fire Action Guide.
Turns out farm land wasn't the only thing destroyed by the weekend's wildfires in West Oahu. One family says they lost the place they called home.
Originally from Thailand, the Jairuan family lived and worked on one of of the farm lands. While they lost their home and everything in it, they're grateful no one was seriously hurt.
All the family can do right now is rely on the support of friends and family as they pick up the pieces, but Jairuan is rising above the ashes and staying positive.
"This happened for a reason. This window is closed and the other one will open. Something will happen, something good will happen," he said.
Jairuan's friends have started a fundraiser for the family, to view please click here.
It pains us to hear this news - we know how much sweat, toil, and care goes into farming. If you are a farmer who was impacted by the fire, we are with you. HDOA's Agricultural Loan Division is also offering the farmers financial assistance since the state essentially owns the park.
If you are a farmer or rancher or manage large areas of land, the ReadySetGo! wildfire preparedness guide has a detailed step-by-step guide on how to prepare your lands for wildfire. Also, Pacific Fire Exchange has great resources for developing your own pre-fire plans.
The brush fire in Waianae damaged all 17 state-lots at Wai'anae Agricultural Park.
The 150-acre park is home to crops like tomatoes, kale and palms. After the fire ripped through Waianae Valley, what's left are its charred remains.
The Waianae Ag Park is one of 10 in the state of Hawaii and one of four on Oahu. The state's Department of Agriculture says all 17 lots in Waianae suffered damages in the brush fire: four are total losses.
Apart from crops, several structures on those farm lots were destroyed. Some even lost vehicles, tools and equipment in the fire. The state says irrigation systems were also severely damaged
We are very sorry to hear about the continual loss of homes from the eruption -- this time caused by lava-related brushfires.
Four houses were destroyed Saturday by a brush fire along Kilauea volcano’s lower East Rift Zone.
The houses were in the Halekamahina Road area off Highway 132 near Kapoho, according to Janet Snyder, spokeswoman for Mayor Harry Kim.
Hawaii County residents with losses as a result of the Kilauea eruptions and earthquakes have through Monday, Aug. 13, to register for disaster assistance with FEMA, which can be done at the DRC, weekdays 8 a.m.-6 p.m. and Saturdays, 8 a.m.-4 p.m.
Registration can also be done online at DisasterAssistance.gov or by phone at 800-621-3362 or (TTY) 800-462-7585. Applicants who use 711 or Video Relay service may call 800-621-3362. The toll-free numbers are open 7 a.m.-10 p.m. seven days a week.
We are devastated to hear the tragic news coming out of Greece this week. Our thoughts and prayers are with the victims and their families. The stark realities of a warming planet and increasing extreme wildfire conditions are making it all the more imperative for us all to take action now to reduce climate-related risks and impacts worldwide.
From the Source:
Fast-moving wildfires near Athens have killed at least 76 people, officials said on Tuesday, and have forced thousands of tourists and residents to flee in cars and buses, on foot, aboard boats and on makeshift rafts. In desperation, some people plunged into the Aegean waters and tried to swim to safety.
Gale-force winds topping 50 miles an hour have fanned a pair of fires that tore through seaside areas popular with travelers, leaving behind a trail of charred resorts, burned-out cars and smoldering farms, and wrapping the region in a pall of smoke. Officials said that at least 187 people were injured, including 23 children.
The extreme conditions are in line with patterns that scientists attribute to climate change. Heat waves can be linked to climate change in several ways: Increased greenhouse gases in the atmosphere hold more of the sun’s heat, raising temperatures globally. A hotter climate in turn changes the way air and ocean currents move around the planet, which can further increase temperatures in certain places, like the Mediterranean.
Mahalo to Big Island Now and West Hawaii Today for publishing information on our upcoming Hawaii Wildfire Summit.
From the Source:
Since wildfires are such a wide-spanning issue that affect communities, lands, and waters, the solutions require everyone playing a proactive role. The Hawai‘i Wildfire Summit is a unique opportunity to learn, share, and collaborate with others who deal with wildfire in their work and communities across Hawai‘i and the Pacific.
This year’s theme is “Collaborating Across Hawaii and the Pacific for Summit to Sea Wildfire Protection.”
Presentations and workshops that one would otherwise have to attend on the mainland U.S. will also be a highlight of the event, offering a local option to connect to national-level programs, research and trainings.
HWMO believes strongly in the importance of working together as a pathway for communities to become more resilient in the face of growing wildfires in Hawaii and the Western Pacific. We use national frameworks such as Firewise Communities, Fire Adapted Communities, ReadySetGo!, and Western Cohesive Strategy and apply them at the local level to bring neighbors together.
The science is there to back this up, too! A research team from Northeastern University has found that post-disaster anxiety from recent climate-related disasters was reduced solely because of social ties. "Individuals who had more friends, neighbors, and relatives nearby did far better than more isolated people," said Dr. Daniel Aldrich, professor and director of the Security and Resilience Program at Northeastern.
"TG: How can people become more resilient?
DA: To become more resilient, my team and I have put together a package of policies that we're encouraging neighborhoods and communities around the world (e.g. Wellington, NZ, Cambridge, MA, San Francisco, CA, etc.) to try out. These include strengthening ties with neighbors, holding regular community events, engaging citizens in every planning and zoning event possible, creating local communities, and building spaces that encourage social interaction."
As we keep all those affected by the mudslides and flooding in California in our thoughts, we should note that post-fire flooding can impact islands in the Pacific, as well. The characteristics that lead to these events are similar whether in California or in Hawaii.
From the Source:
"Also called post-fire debris flows, these mudslides form when water rushing down slopes picks up dirt, burnt trees, rocks, and other debris (like cars), reaching speeds of more than 35 miles per hour. “When you mix a lot of mud, water, and boulders, it certainly can be quite catastrophic,” says Dennis Staley, a scientist with the US Geological Survey Landslide Hazards Program. The slurries can start with almost no warning after as little as a third of an inch of rain in just 30 minutes — especially on slopes scorched by fires. After fires blazed across more than half a million acres this fall in California’s worst fire season on record, it’s not hard to find burnt land."
Fire makes slopes more susceptible to mudslides for a few reasons, according to climate scientist Daniel Swain’s Weather West blog. For one thing, flames can strip hillsides of plants that would otherwise anchor the dirt in place. Extreme fires that burn through thick vegetation can also physically change the soil — leaving behind a layer of water-repellant dirt near the surface. That layer acts like a raincoat, slicking off water that can then form mudslides, according to the USGS California Water Science Center.
Plus, without plants to slow the rain before it reaches the dirt, the soil can’t absorb as much water — leaving more to race down hillsides as runoff. Imagine the soil as coffee grounds in a filter: if you pour your boiling water slowly, it will soak into the grounds and drip through into your cup. But if you dump your boiling water all at once, a watery, muddy slurry will overflow. That’s what’s happening on the bare slopes of Southern California right now."
Whether in Hawaii or California, post-fire erosion and flooding is a big deal. For example, the 2016 floods in Maui after an explosive fire season created massive plumes of soil, debris, trash, oil, and other pollutants along the shorelines. We are crossing our fingers that the post-fire flood threat in California this week will spare all homes and people in its path and have minimal damage throughout the watersheds.
From the Source:
"The mandatory evacuation order was issued for unincorporated parts of Santa Barbara County, Montecito, Summerland and Carpinteria, the county said. Areas along Tecolote Canyon, Eagle Canyon, Dos Pueblos Canyon, Gato Canyon, and Whittier burn areas near Goleta were also included in that order."
“This is the first significant rain the area has had in some time, it’s the first where they’ve had to be concerned about the fire scarred areas of the hills,” he added. Lucksinger said flooding and mudslides were always a concern in the foothills and mountains “when rain comes down quickly in a short amount of time like that.”
It has been heavy news, one after another, with the California wildfires alone (not to mention the numerous destructive hurricanes this summer). We thought we'd share this incredible story of survival (of both humans and pets) for a glimpse at the silver-linings that can exist during such tremendous disasters. Added bonus, the story reveals how strategic, controlled grazing can literally save lives!
From the Source:
"What they discovered was both the worst and the best of outcomes. The house was gone, the trucks were gone, everything was ash and gray.
Except for the goats.
All eight of them had survived. Odin did, too, limping, with singed fur and melted whiskers. But his tail still wagged. Hendel thinks he knows what happened."
"As he shuffled through some things — watching objects disintegrate into ash as he poked at them — he heard the noise. It was unmistakable: a bleat that could only come from a goat. There, standing in the drive were Lucy and Ethel, singed and hungry and fine. Somebody, probably the firefighters, had even left them a bowl of water. He has no real idea how they survived, only a theory.
'All I can think is the pasture was just low grass and so the fire couldn't sustain itself there.'"
As we mourn the losses from the California wildfires, we also send our deepest sympathies to those who have lost loved ones in the Portugal and Spain fires.
From the Source:
"At least 41 people died after hundreds of fires spread across central and northern areas on Sunday and Monday.
They started in dry conditions and were fanned by strong Atlantic winds from Hurricane Ophelia.
Across the border in Spain, at least four people died in wildfires in the Galicia region.
However, a one-month-old baby who was believed to have died in Portugal's Tabua area has been found alive, the civil protection authorities told the Portuguese press."
"Residents said they had little time to react. 'The fire came at the foot of the village and spread at an incredible rate,' Jose Morais, who lives in Vouzela in the Viseu region, told AFP news agency.
'It felt like the end of the world. Everyone fled.'"
We want to mahalo again the efforts of first responders for their efforts in keeping Waimea residents as safe as possible during the 2,000-plus acre brushfire. The number one priority is lives and safety and no people were injured during what could have been a much more destructive fire. However, we wish for a quick recovery for those impacted by the fire, including the woman who lost her home during the fire, Ms. Lindsey-Barkley who lost a couple sheep, and Parker Ranch who lost a great deal of water line and fencing. Many pets and livestock were evacuated safely during the fire. Having a pet and livestock evacuation plan is an important addition to your evacuation plan. You can find some of this information and more on wildfire readiness in the Ready Set Go! Wildland Fire Action Guide.
From the Source:
"The woman said she went back to the house to save her animals: two cats, a dog and a bunny.
The resident said the owner of the land has 25 head of cattle and two horses. All were safely evacuated."
"Nahua Guilloz, senior manager for the ranch, said 11,000 linear feet of above-ground water line and 400 feet of linear fencing were burned."
Our hearts go out to the residents who lost their home during Friday's runaway brushfire in Waimea that burned 2,200 acres of land. Fortunately, no one was injured but one lost home affects our whole community. We also wish Parker Ranch the best for its recovery after losing several miles of water line and fencing and other infrastructure (as well as grazing land). Parker Ranch has been a long-time partner of HWMO's and they are a major event sponsor for the upcoming Firefighter Chili Cook-Off benefit on August 26th.
From the Source:
“'As to why it started, and how it started, we don’t know. We have a burn ban in West Hawaii, so no one should be burning anything, so on that part, it’s illegal, but I don’t think it was an intentionally set brush fire.'"
"'It burned around (2,200 acres), and we’re expecting most of that to be ours,” Guilloz said. 'We had several miles of water line burned and fencing as well that has been burned. They were able to save most of our water tanks, but right now we’re still (assessing).'"
Even though Australia is miles away from Hawaii, there are many commonalities with how wildfires (or bushfires, as they call it) behave on the continent versus Hawaii. Here’s a great article that explains how bushfires work — see if you can draw the parallels with Hawaii. The main difference? Wildfire is part of a natural cycle in Australian ecosystems, unlike in Hawaii where it is an introduced cycle.
“Peak fire conditions occur when there's a period of significant rainfall that causes plants to grow, followed by a hot spell that dries out this fuel. This means the bushfire seasons vary around Australia.”
“Bushfires typically move in a front — a thin line of burning grass or forest that inches forward as new material catches alight.
Radiant heat from the fire front warms the air ahead, drying out fuel, and causing volatile gases inside wood to escape – thus priming new fuel for the approaching fire.”
“Strong winds can sometimes blow burning embers ahead of the fire front, setting alight new patches of fuel in a process known as "spotting".
These patches of fire can then quickly grow and join up, forming one giant blaze, hundreds of metres or even kilometres wide. Such an event, known as "deep flaming", is more difficult for firefighters to control.
The heat and smoke given off from deep flaming can even create "pyrocumulonimbus" clouds that form over a bushfire.”
“'Different species have different life cycles, and some of their aspects of reproduction and regeneration may be linked to fire,' Professor Bradstock said.
An example of such a plant is the acacia, which requires the heat of a bushfire to crack its seed pods so it can germinate.”
It pains us to see the damage occurred to this hard working business owner, Bob Kahana, who has put so much time and effort into building his popular business, on top of losing a dog in the large Kalaeloa brushfire. But we are inspired by his resilience - "Yeah, well, we started from nothing. We'll get it back up." We are with you, Bob, and hope you and your business spring back onto your feet.
"Bob Kahana, co-owner of Hawaii Extreme Paintball, says a dog did not survive the fire, and nearly three acres of the property burned down.
Kahana estimates the fire will cause about a 60-percent loss in business.
‘I don’t want to say we got a lick, but we’ll see,’ he said.”