Preserving Memories of Kapoho

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Dortch family. Courtesy photo

The Dortch family, Chris, Hollie and their four daughters (ages 6, 10, 12 and 14), lost their home in Kapoho to a raging river of lava on June 4, 2018.

Although they are devastated by the loss of their possessions, home, neighborhood and beloved tide pools and nearby beaches, the family is rallying to preserve precious memories.

“We were evacuated in the middle of the night, shortly before our home and neighborhood were wiped out,” said Chris Dortch. “All that we had is now under 40 feet of lava.”

The Dortch family home. Courtesy photo

“The incredible fish-filled tide pools and magnificent beach community that was one of Hawai‘i’s gems are lost forever,” said Dortch. “We want to remember the great and wonderful times we had in Kapoho and will always be thankful we were able to experience some of the wonder and beauty of that amazing place.”


“Many mourn the loss of that wonderful place, and we seek to pay our respect and document the incredible memories that were made there,” he added.

The idea to preserve and honor the area through photos and film footage fits perfectly with Dortch’s former career as a National Geographic photographer and cinematographer, where he digitized and distributed multimedia content online.

Chris Dortch. Courtesy photo

“My 14-year-old daughter Jayna and I are collecting images and videos of Kapoho that we can share with residents of the area, those who vacationed there and all others who loved the Champagne Ponds and the Wai’ope Tidepools,” Dortch said.

Dortch will “host” the files they collect at so that viewer can browse the permanent archive. His goal is to make all of the photos and videos searchable, and easy to download and share.


“Positive thoughts like this can help reduce the suffering of those that are saddened by this tragic loss,” said Dortch.

Jayna also suggested creating a mini-documentary focusing on the life of Kapoho, using the videos and photos that are sent in.

The father-daughter team—Chris and Jayna Dortch—has already organized aerial and underwater footage, photos and news clips that they intend to share on the site. Courtesy photo

“We have just started asking for photos and videos of Kapoho and have already received many,” said Dortch. “We have received lots of very positive feedback.”

The father-daughter team has already organized aerial and underwater footage, photos and news clips that they intend to share on the site.


Dortch can receive digital content in any way that is convenient for the content owner (Dropbox, email, FTP, etc.). He can also receive old photographs that are not digital through the mail. Hard drives or hard copies of photos can be sent to 14-4907 Kahi Ina Place, Pāhoa, HI 96778.

Although this address is one that was located in the Kapoho area that was covered by lava, the post office will hold anything that is sent to that address in a secure place. Materials will be returned to the owner once it is copied.

Wai’ope Tidepools. Courtesy photo

Collecting all of this media, making it searchable and keeping it organized on a public archive will require some time-consuming setup, regular updates and ongoing hosting fees.

Dortch said he is willing to cover those expenses, but if there are those willing to help cover some of those costs, a financial contribution can be made at

“We hope these images and videos will help people remember the good times that were enjoyed in Kapoho—especially now, during this time of sadness, distress and mourning,” said Dortch.

For more information or to submit digital photos and videos, email [email protected].

Additional information about Dortch can be found online or by calling him at (801) 362-7229.

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