Ka­iaua com­mu­nity spirit eases pain


‘‘The peo­ple’’.

It seems to be the first two words that spring to mind when Ka­iaua res­i­dents are asked what they most en­joy about the town.

They stick be­side each other when push comes to shove and they won’t let any­thing dampen their spir­its, not even when they were struck with flood wa­ters as a re­sult of a storm that swept through the costal town on Jan­uary 5.

Pink Shop owner Lynn Yea­ger has been liv­ing in Ka­iaua for 23 years and has owned the shop for the past 14. Her busi­ness has been se­verely flooded three times since, but not once has she thought about selling up - she’s too proud.

‘‘Never. Nah, I wouldn’t do that - I’m not a quit­ter,’’ she said.

The storm is a topic the Ka­iaua res­i­dents choose to brush off. They’d rather get on with the job of re­pair. And help each other.

‘‘We’re talk­ing about floods again,’’ Yea­ger said to one of her cus­tomer who re­sponded with a re­sent­ful, ‘‘Oh, are we?’’

He helped Yea­ger when her shop was in­un­dated with wa­ter. He drove in his front loader trac­tor and started clear­ing out the de­bris that was left be­hind, but he wasn’t the only one.

‘‘There is lots of com­mu­nity sup­port and cer­tainly from peo­ple that know the Pink Shop from out­side Ka­iaua who have com­mented and come into the shop to show their sup­port,’’ said Yea­ger.

When the del­uge swept through her shop, she lost all of her stock and her freez­ers were wa­ter damaged. She es­ti­mated to have lost around $50,000 in the dis­as­ter.

Tip Top gave her two freez­ers and two kind lo­cals do­nated another two to keep her go­ing un­til her in­sur­ance com­pany pays her out so she can buy her own. But she’s not hold­ing her breath.

‘‘I still haven’t been paid out for the last flood­ing [in March last year],’’ said Yea­ger.

‘‘We are go­ing though, we’re go­ing okay.’’

Another Ka­iaua res­i­dent Bon­nie Camp­bell, who has been liv­ing in the coastal com­mu­nity since 1983, is also grate­ful for the com­mu­nity’s sup­port.

She lost ev­ery­thing af­ter the storm, in­clud­ing all of her late hus­band’s be­long­ings.

‘‘It’s all gone - thrown away,’’ said Camp­bell.

But she’s not pre­pared to leave just yet. She loves the peo­ple, the se­cu­rity and the scenery in Ka­iaua.

‘‘Oh, the com­mu­nity has been very good,’’ said Camp­bell.

A dis­as­ter re­lief fund was also set up to as­sist fam­ily and home­own­ers that were in des­per­ate need of help. The fund had raised more than $40,000 and ap­pli­ca­tions closed March 31.

Nine­teen ap­pli­ca­tions have been re­ceived. Three have been ap­proved and paid out, and the trustees will meet this week to con­sider the re­main­ing 16.

Hau­raki Dis­trict Coun­cil Mayor John Tregidga said he was proud of the town’s strength.

‘‘The one pos­i­tive thing among all the stress and trauma of a dev­as­tat­ing event like this is the com­mu­nity spirit that of­ten emerges, es­pe­cially in smaller ru­ral com­mu­ni­ties,’’ said Tregidga.

‘‘Peo­ple opened up their homes and busi­nesses, raised funds, and gen­er­ally just rolled up their sleeves and chipped in where they could to help oth­ers. It was in­cred­i­bly heart­en­ing to see.’’

The Hau­raki Dis­trict Coun­cil has also agreed to pay or waive up to $2000 in build­ing con­sent fees for those at risk of flood­ing who wish to lift their build­ings. The of­fer is open to all own­ers of affected prop­er­ties.

The coun­cil has bud­geted for ap­prox­i­mately 10 con­sent ap­pli­ca­tions per year.

Tidal surge from the Jan­uary storm caused sig­nif­i­cant dam­age to ap­prox­i­mately 12 homes, mod­er­ate dam­age to 72 homes, while 157 homes were mildly affected.

‘‘While ac­knowl­edg­ing that the af­ter ef­fects of this event are still very real and stress­ful for some peo­ple, over­all I think the com­mu­nity is stronger than ever,’’ Tregidga said.


Lynn Yea­ger said that if it wasn’t for the com­mu­nity, the Pink Shop may have shut its doors for the last time.


Ka­iaua’s Pink Shop can con­tinue serv­ing up Ka­iaua’s best, and only cof­fee thanks to com­mu­nity sup­port.

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