February 23, 2024

Maui ravaged, devastated by wildfires and disaster

   On Aug. 8, a fire started in Maui, Hawaii. With high winds, the fires spread quickly, making the fire turn into something way more devastating than what it started as. The start of the fire is claimed to be both intentional and malicious, in which a lawsuit has been filed for. This was against the electric utility with their mismanagement of the power lines in Maui. The fire started and spread from the winds caused by Hurricane Dora which hit Hawaii, Johnston Island, and Wake Island.

  Though there have been multiple fires, one was more devastating than others. The fire in Lahaina has burned around 2,100 acres. Lahaina was a historic town, established in the 1700s. It has been completely destroyed, nothing is left of the town. More fires in Maui that have caused significant devastation were in Olinda and burned around 1,000 acres. Pulehu-Kihei burned around 3,2000.

   Over 2,200 buildings were destroyed from these fires, almost 90% were residential. The impact these fires had on Maui would take nearly $5.5 billion to fix. Although, there is more damage than just the buildings, there has been a water advisory for all these areas and the water is undrinkable. The death toll for these fires are currently at 115, with an additional 66 people missing. The missing people were numbered at 1,300.

   The fires on the island have been ranked fifth for deadliest wildland fire in history for the United States. Due to all the people who have lost their homes, the community has created a new little pop-up village to house those homeless. Eighty-six homes were created in 10-acres and they are said to house around 250 people.

   Some residents said they felt there could have been more of a warning as the sirens never sounded, they only had time from when they noticed the fire to evacuate. Many did not have time to evacuate, dozens of people in Lahaina ran into the ocean to escape from the fire.

There are multiple ways to support and help those affected. Including; Hawaii Community Foundation Maui Strong, which focuses on rapid response to those in Maui and works with nonprofits to communicate with the community for what they need. Maui Food Bank, which is collecting food and distributing it to those who are going hungry in Maui County. The Public Schools of Hawaii Foundation, which is partnered with The Department of Education, is supporting school communities in West Maui until Oct. 1. Maui Humane Society is supporting shelters for displaced people and animals, as well as providing care for injured animals. There are many more ways to donate and support those in Maui. The community has a long way to go to rebuild their land, with this happening so unexpectedly the relief they have had is very little. No large fires have happened like this before in Maui, so there are no past plans or supports for them to lean on.