HONOLULU (KHON2) — As residents return to their properties in Lahaina, many will be picking up the pieces of what’s left from the fires.
One of those pieces blew all the way across the Au’au Channel to the shores of Lanai.
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This charred picture of a Lahaina resident’s high school graduation is helping her move on a message of hope from her great-grandmother.
The details of Aug. 8 are still vivid for Aubrey Vailoces, who was watching her daughters play on that afternoon when everything went sideways.
“They start coughing when they were playing,” recalled Aubrey Vailoces, a Lahaina fire survivor. “And I was, like, that’s weird because I could smell smoke. You know, and then the house just fire alarm just went off.”
The family were among the many who survived an arduous hours-long evacuation, but their home did not.
In the fires, Aubrey thought she lost all of her possessions.
“I didn’t have anything because we, you know, we– we never no one knew,” explained Vailoces. “No one knew we were supposed to evacuate,”
She took her family to Oahu to live in a family member’s empty home and went into a dark place emotionally.
When Aubrey finally opened herself up to the world again, she began to get messages from friends. One in particular stood out.
“What struck me is this friend of mine,” said Vailoces. “‘Is this you?’ And I’m like, whoa, that is to me. It’s a picture of my high school graduation. The woman beside me is my great grandmother who raised me.”
This charred picture was making rounds on the internet posted over and over with people looking for the owner. It had washed up on the shores of Lanai about 10 miles away.
You can see aubrey in her cap and gown, hugging her late great-grandmother
“That was my great grandmother giving me the get your butt up, take a shower, you know, and take care of yourself,” Vailoces reminisced.
Socorro means help in Spanish. Aubrey knew what was there for her.
“I mean the picture went all the way to Lanai,” said Vailoces. “I don’t know how, and I think that’s gonna be me too. I don’t know how I’m gonna make it far. But I think I’m gonna be just fine.”
And she thinks that message can be inspirational for her whole community.
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“Just like the picture we were burning on the side, but the core is good,” concluded Vailoces. “Just like the banyan tree. The banyan tree is burned but the core of it is still good.”