Local Heroes: Hanalei Taro's Lyndsey Haraguchi-Nakayama

HANALEI (KHON2) - April's heavy rain and flash flooding caused a lot of devastation for farmers on Oahu and Kauai.

Hanalei Taro and Juice Co. was hit especially hard.

Its farm is over 100 years old and spans six generations. April's flooding caused some of the worst damage in its history.

"Many people didn't see it coming. As farmers, we always try to evacuate, and even some of the areas that we evacuated equipment to on a hill was still not high enough for the massive flash floods that hit in April," said co-owner Lyndsey Haraguchi-Nakayama. "Unfortunately, our farm home and office got hit. The flash flood water moved and it came in straight for our farm house and office. It knocked out five foundational pillars. All the farm vehicles were submerged as well."

Months later, the family farm is still struggling to rebuild. Despite the challenges, Haraguchi-Nakayama finds time to give back to the community and educate the next generation.

The company's nonprofit, Hoopulapula Haraguchi Rice Mill, is an agrarian museum that has been providing educational programs for children statewide for more than 36 years.

"The mission of the non-profit is hoopulapula, which means to plant the seedlings of. So whether it was the seedlings of rice back then, taro, and also planting seeds of education," Haraguchi-Nakayama explained. "We really feel that it's important to educate the next generation, because they are the future. Teachers are important. They're educating the next generation. Farmers are important, because everybody's got to eat, right? So the combination of the two is kind of what we do.

"A lot of teachers have told us, 'We know you're going through a lot. You guys don't have to teach,' but the kids really wanted to hear from us. ... Through those tragedies and the disasters, the floods, we are trying to continue the mission of the non-profit."

Her efforts were not lost on the students she touches. When news spread of the farm's devastation, they were determined to help.

"They made banners. They sign-waved to raise awareness, and it was so touching to see them want to try to help out our farm from afar. So even though we're going through that, we want to be able to come here and spend time with the kids and thank them," Haraguchi-Nakayama said.