Laird Hamilton Rescues Vacationing Family

'He just kind of boated right up'
By Evann Gastaldo,  Newser Staff
Posted Apr 19, 2018 3:33 PM CDT
Legendary Surfer Rescues Vacationing Family During Devastating Kauai Flooding
In this Monday, April 16, 2018, photo provided by the Office of the Governor, Hawaii, Hawaii Gov. David Ige, left, flies over the flood-damaged areas of the island of Kauai.   (Courtesy of Hawaii Governor's Office via AP)

Kauai was hit with historic flooding over the weekend—a record 28 inches of rain fell in just about 24 hours—but a legendary surfer was there to save the day for many who were stranded. Laird Hamilton, who pioneered the art of big wave tow-in surfing, spent Saturday helping people caught in the downpour and ensuing mudslides, including one San Diego family that was on the island for a vacation. The Gwilliams were stuck in their rented house along a river, which flooded its banks and washed out surrounding roads and a bridge. "I was terrified," mom Erin Gwilliam tells Hawaii News Now. That's when Hamilton, who lives across the river, showed up in a boat with his daughter and their dog.

"He just kind of boated right up and was like, 'OK, come through the mud and the slime and come throw your bags in and let's go,'" Erin says. He reassured their kids and took photos and videos with the family as he ferried them off the North Shore. "Now it just confirms him as being a total legend in my book," says dad Jamas. Meanwhile, evacuations are still ongoing; more than 340 people have been airlifted to safety so far. And the crisis may not be over yet: The AP reports a flash flood warning is in effect starting Thursday. Hawaii News Now reports that power to Wainiha and Haena was cut Thursday so repairs can be made to a transmission line as crews work to restore full power service. It could be weeks before some roads reopen. (This weekend was not Hamilton's first brush with heroism.)

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