Fifteen-year-old Selena Santos was sitting in the living room with her 5-year-old sister when the roof of their home blew off Monday during what is believed to be a microburst from the thunderstorms that left much of Hilo flooded.
“I heard three loud thunders and saw curtains flying up, so I grabbed my sister and covered her,” she said. “That’s when a piece of drywall fell on my back. I looked around and the whole ceiling was coming down. We had no roof.”
Santos said she knew she had to get out of the house and quickly took her sister under her arm. They ran outside, she said, “screaming and crying” for their uncle who lives next door to their Hoopuni Street home.
Santos’ uncle, Gary Corpuz, said he was inside around 5:30 p.m. before the girls came calling for help.
“I was in the living room scolding my sons for messing up the place when next thing I know I hear this loud boom,” he said.
Then he heard the girls yelling for him. He gave them shelter and a phone to call Santos’ father, who was at work at the time.
Santos’ father, Captain Dekoning, a firefighter, said he was at the station when he got a call that a roof had flown off a nearby house.
“A few seconds later, my daughter called me on the phone and said, ‘The roof just blew off the house and the house is ruined.’ As soon as I got there and saw them my heart sank,” he said.
When he arrived, Dekoning said half of the back of the house was gone.
“The roof was 300 feet down the street on top of a car,” he said.
Santos recalled seeing her father after the traumatic event.
“He is used to this happening, but not to him, not to his family,” she said.
Santos, who was enjoying a sunny day at the beach Thursday, said she’s trying to make sense of it all.
“It all happened way too fast for it to hit me. I’m still getting flashbacks to that day,” she said.
Dekoning said although it was an unfortunate experience, he’s feeling “blessed that everyone is OK.”
“Nobody got hurt. Nobody got killed. We’re so fortunate that our friends, family and community have reached out. We’re not used to having help like this. We’re used to helping people, so right now I’m speechless,” he said.
Since then, Dekoning, his wife and children have been staying at Uncle Billy’s hotel. Their home, which they rented, is condemned and many of their items were destroyed in the storm.
Dekoning expressed his gratitude to New Hope Services in Hilo, the Red Cross, and friends, family and community members for offering their support.
To help the Dekoning family, contact the Red Cross or make a donation online at firstname.lastname@example.org using a Paypal account.
Email Megan Moseley at email@example.com.