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Hawaii’s Ocean Community Steps Up for Maui Wildfire Survivors Rebuilding Their Lives

HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) – Immediately after the August wildfires devastated Maui, longtime surfboard shaper and Valley Isle native Jud Lau used his craft to help the victims.

“Everything has changed and will be for many years, but then the ocean and the waves is a constant,” Lau said. “The ocean is still there, the waves are still there, so at least they can have whatever constants that they find in their life can kind of help to ease the transition.”

Lau, who is among the best in shaping boards and knows the ocean’s therapeutic power, came up with the Surfboard Replacement Project, a drive to collect used boards from across the state for those who lost everything in the fires.

He put the word out on social media, and Hawaii’s surfers answered — providing hundreds of boards in a matter of weeks.

Lau also personally made dozens of boards to donate and got fellow shapers across Maui to join in.

“It was really really special and heartwarming and I think it was a real thing where everyone is kind of seeing how important it is to support local,” Lau said. “I feel it’s been a really cumulative, positive impact.”

Also inspiring for Lau was the widespread collaboration.

A large chunk of the boards came from Oahu thanks to many professionals and the ocean-centered nonprofit Na Kama Kai.

Then, when it came to having them flown over, Kamaka Air, which has donated 70,000 pounds of relief supplies, stepped in.

“Talk about a chicken skin moment when we saw that and the amount of support that came out with that,” said Kamaka Air president Jim Petrides. “How important surfing is to the community, to the identity and the spiritual side, it really was amazing.”

Collectively, Lau’s project helped provide boards to at least 500 fire survivors, and each time, it was an emotional experience.

“They’re so happy to have a new board, and you’re so happy to have that for them, but at the same time, everything else in their life is just a constant,” Lau said. “They’re all still don’t have a permanent place to live. They don’t know where they’ll be in a month or two. It’s just a real heavy, heavy thing.”

Lau is still collecting boards and monetary donations for survivors.

Source : HawaiiNewsNow