Helping victims of Super Storm Sandy

Honoluluís Emily Kukulies deployed on Red Cross relief mission

Honolulu Community College
Contact:
Billie K T Lueder, (808) 845-9187
Communications & External Affairs, Honolulu Community College
Posted: Jan 10, 2013

Emily Kukulies brought the Aloha spirit to the New Jersey area.
Emily Kukulies brought the Aloha spirit to the New Jersey area.
This home in the Union Bay area has become a symbol of the devastation.
This home in the Union Bay area has become a symbol of the devastation.
Assistant Professor and Director of Honolulu Community College’s Student Life and Development Office Emily Kukulies didn’t blink twice when she received the call that she would be deployed to aid in the relief efforts for Super Storm Sandy that hit the East Coast in late October.
 
A volunteer with the Hawaiʻi chapter of the Red Cross, Kukulies is a member of the disaster action team that is on call 24-7.
 
“As a Red Cross volunteer you have to flexible because you are working in extreme conditions, along side other Red Cross volunteers from all over the country representing a broad range of cultural backgrounds and life experiences. It is imperative that we work as a cohesive unit staying true to the mission so that we don’t lose sight of why we are there,” explains Kukulies.
 
During her three weeks of service, Kukulies was assigned as a client caseworker overseeing the Northern region of the state of New Jersey that encompasses 11 counties. She managed a team of approximately 80 caseworkers who were in the field assisting families and individuals offering resources and getting victims on to the path of recovery.
 
“By sharing these real-world experiences with my students I hope to teach them valuable life lessons about how to deal with crises conflict, be able to successfully collaborate with one another, and be an effective project manager.”
 
To date, the Hawaiʻi State Chapter has sent 42 local volunteers to the East Coast to aid in Sandy relief efforts. Having local volunteers gain experience and leadership on large disaster operations will help ensure that each island will be able to respond if a large disaster strikes here in Hawaiʻi.
 
“We are so proud that Hawaiʻi Red Cross volunteers from Kauaʻi, Big Island, Maui, Molokaʻi and Oʻahu gave their time and efforts to help those in need on the East Coast. Volunteers like Emily have shown selfless dedication, sacrificing time with their families, to help those affected,” said Coralie Chun Matayoshi, CEO, American Red Cross, Hawaiʻi State Chapter. “As an island state, we all need to be prepared for disasters. Having our local volunteers gain invaluable experience and leadership on large disaster operations will help ensure that each island will be able to respond if a large disaster strikes here.”
 
Kukulies is one of the few known employees within the University of Hawaiʻi System that has represented the state of Hawaiʻi in the Sandy relief efforts. She is currently working towards a certificate in disaster management and humanitarian assistance at the University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa with the Department of Urban and Regional Planning.
 
She was most recently called to help families displaced by a multi-unit fire in Nānākuli. “We provide tools to help the families make decisions about what to do post-disaster, everything from landlord relations, how to clean up from the smoke and water to helping the family members who may have trouble recovery from the tragedy of loss. When you are scared in the middle of the night because your home has had, what could have been, a deadly event, it is helpful to know that there is someone there to make sure you are safe."