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Maui In Flames; How To Help Lāhainā


In the midst of summer, Hawai’i is a hot spot for tourism, with its breathtaking and diverse eight major islands: Hawai’i itself, the big island. Kahoolawe, the target island. Kauai, the garden island. Lanai, the pineapple island. Molokia, the friendly island. Niihau, the forbidden island. Oahu, the gathering place. And Maui, the valley island. Maui, known for its humpback whales, beautiful beaches, sacred Īao Valley, and skies as blue as the ocean surrounding it. But on August 8th, at 6:37am, Maui was in flames.

70 mile gusts of angry wind swept through Lāhainā, knocking powerlines to the ground. These very powerlines, believed to be one of the major causes of the three extreme fires on the island, as a video taken by a Lāhainā resident shows one of these powerlines crashing down and spraying electric sparks over the dry and brittle grass. The hurricane level winds feeding the small sparks, causing the kindling to burst into a blaze and engulf the island in just hours, giving almost no time for residents to escape, keeping them in an inferno death-trap. With no warning sirens sounded and only two exits from the city, people who were trapped in their cars had only a few options: stay in the car and hope that traffic moves faster than the flames, or make a run for it into the ocean.

Now, 22 days later, 85% of Lāhainā has been turned to ash, and thousands of people have been misplaced. Left with no belongings, no vehicles, no home, and no place to go. 3000 acres burned from three wildfires, leaving as of now, 115 deceased, and more yet to be found.

Man walking through line of cars that were trying to escape the fires, turned to ash – courtesy of Rick Bowmer A/P, CBC News


This has left Lāhaināns in desperate need of necessities. Thankfully, resources and support have flooded to the island from across the globe. Food, clothes, money, and toiletries have all been donated. But, there are still more necessities that are needed. Items such as nonperishable food items, wheelchairs, water, hand washing stations, portable charging stations, tents, and outdoor sinks, as of August 14, were all listed as items of need on Hawaii News Now. If you would like to donate to help give Lāhaināns more resources, a donation drop-off center Bosco’s Bones and Brews in Sunol at 11922 Main St, has been listed as the place to ship donations. 

But Lāhainā residents don’t only just have the scramble of getting necessary items to deal with. The demanding manner of realtors from the mainland trying to grab Lāhainā land has grown into another worrying problem. Goldean Lowe, a Lāhainā resident, had this exact problem occur. She told CBS that she had been solicited by realtors five different times, even though her home was still left intact from the fires. Sadly, Lowe is not the only Lāhainān to be solicited by realtors in such a pressuring and predatory way. 

The surplus pressure these realtors have forced onto Lāhaiāns has sparked the hashtag “Keep Lāhainā Lands in Lāhainā Hands” across social media. T-shirts, baseball caps, and tank tops have been made with the hashtag printed on them. The profits made off of these items all going to relief funds for Lāhainā residents. If you would like to buy a shirt or hat in support, a link to one of the stores donating all profits to Lāhainā funds is listed below.

Sadly, money, land and necessities are not the only concern for Lāhaināns. More than 388 people are still missing and unaccounted for, their families searching for any clues as to where they could have ended up. If you have any information on where some of these people may be, please call the Federal Bureau of Investigation Honolulu at 808-566-4300. If you yourself are looking to find someone, please call the American Red Cross hotline at 1-800-733-2767. Even if you have just a small piece of information, yours might be the lead that brings someone’s beloved friend, neighbor, or family member home.

 The fires that engulfed Lāhianā were unexpected and unanticipated. But when tragedy strikes, people must act to help one another, even if those people helping the locals are an ocean apart. Donations in all forms are not the only way to help Lāhaināns, but they are seen as much more beneficial and directly help those in need compared to the other ways you can do your part to help. Many in Lāhaināns lost everything, but they can gain a little bit back from our generosity.  


Hea Hawaii, Keep Lāhainā Lands in Lāhainā Hands T-shirt


Hawaii Nonprofit | Lāhui Foundation

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About the Contributor
Madisyn (Paps) Hunt
Madisyn (Paps) Hunt, Lead Page Editor
Madisyn is the lead page editor and a writer for our website. Lately, they've been experimenting with going their own way. Madisyn's favorite day is High School Journalism Day, when everyone from the Spokesman gets to go to Northwestern for a day of fun. "Change can be difficult, but it's how we grow. It can be the hardest thing to realize you can't hold on to something forever. Sometimes, you have to let it go; but, of the things you let go, you'd be surprised what makes its way back to you." - Anne Boonchuy, from Amphibia

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