Editorial: Give thanks, and a hand, to others
Overall, this year has brought relatively gentle weather — and for that, we’re thankful. T
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Shortly before the start of hurricane season in June, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration predicted a 70% chance of an above-normal season, and residents were advised to brace for the annual possibility of a hard hit, by gathering up two weeks’ worth of of survival supplies.
Now, with the season wrapping up at month’s end, NOAA reports that a total of five tropical cyclones swirled our way, with a few delivering days of intermittent heavy rains and high surf.
Overall, this year has brought relatively gentle weather — and for that, we’re thankful. This is a particular relief after 2018, which unleashed a higher-than-usual level of turmoil. Last year’s hurricane season was punctuated by the anxiety-inducing Lane, which dumped more than 50 inches of rain on parts of Hawaii island and passed just south of Oahu.
Last year also saw flooding and mudslides thrashing parts of Kauai and Oahu; and the eruption of Kilauea’s Pu‘u O‘o vent, which destroyed about 700 Hawaii island homes and displaced many more families. While the upheaval is now a full year behind us, some communities are still struggling to fully recover.
Whether due to nature’s powerful blows or Hawaii’s high-cost-of-living challenges, it’s trying whenever basic comforts are in short supply — and especially so at the holidays.
In recent years, studies, such as the Aloha United Way-commissioned ALICE (asset-limited, income- constrained, employed) Report-Hawaii, have found that nearly half of households earn too little to cover basic needs.
Last year’s ALICE report showed that while 11% of households statewide fall below the federal poverty line, another 37% earn less than the so-called ALICE Threshold, or “household survival budget” — for a total of 48% of households that fall short.
The household survival budget covers basic housing, food, transportation, cell phone, child care and health care costs — but does not allow for any savings.
At the heart of the holidays is gratitude for what we have, and sharing with those who have less. At this time of year, the Honolulu Star-Advertiser always works to drive donations to the Good Neighbor Fund, which serves hundreds of families in need (see ).
Among them is an Ewa Beach family in which a sergeant correctional officer at Oahu Community Correctional Center, Kim Letua, has been unable to work for the past 10 months while recovering from an inmate attack that left her with torn tendons in her left hand. Meanwhile, Letua and her husband are caring for six children, including five nieces and nephews.
Letua’s sudden financial instability serves as another example of how many of us are vulnerable to life — as well as Mother Nature or the economy — throwing a curveball. In her case, while the family is contending with hardship, there’s also optimism that the future holds a return to stability.
Among other things, Thanksgiving celebrates that sort of resilient spirit. The holiday’s historical backdrop, of course, is the story of Pilgrims and the Native Americans sitting down to a meal, celebrating survival against the odds. Today, as the holidays get underway here with special get-togethers and gift-giving, make an effort to reach out to households in need.