Unprecedented wildfires raging across the Hawaii Island (also known as the Big Island) and Maui have resulted in at least 36 deaths, decimated homes along with businesses and prompted U.S. President Joe Biden to approve, on Aug. 10, a disaster declaration which frees up federal funds to support affected individuals.
Since the wildfires began on Aug. 8, flames have been fanned by strong winds from Hurricane Dora, though the hurricane passed 700 miles away. Winds exceeding 60 mph have fueled flames that have wiped out homes, historic buildings and even a
150-year historic banyan tree that, considered sacred, is in the Maui tourist hub of Lahaina.
Lahaina, located in West Maui, has experienced some of the worst damage caused by the wildfires.
The cause of the fires continues to be under investigation, according to Maui County officials.
The needs of the fire victims are immense on Maui. Presently, the island’s primary needs are restored communications, fuel and food, according to Hawaiian state officials.
For those interested in supporting relief efforts, there are several ways to do so. Organizations accepting donations to aid the Hawaii wildfire victims include American Red Cross; World Central Kitchen, which has been providing meals to emergency workers and evacuees; and Baby2Baby, which is preparing to send diapers and other essentials to Maui.
Jewish Congregation of Maui is collecting non-perishable foods, clothing, slippers, diapers, first-aid supplies and toiletries from people who live locally. The community is also accepting online donations from those outside of Maui who want to help.
Other organizations you can support are Maui Food Bank and Maui United Way.
Southern California-based Journalist Pete Hammond, a columnist for entertainment industry news website Deadline, was on vacation in Wailea, Maui at the time of the wildfires. Wailea, he said, was untouched by the fires, though ash had collected in the ocean, and people there were continuing to vacation as if everything was normal.
Hammond’s hotel, Four Seasons Resort Maui at Wailea is a favorite with many Beverly Hills residents. Hammond told the Courier the property quickly booked up as tourists changing their plans and locals seeking shelter moved to reserve rooms. On Aug. 9, he published an essay for Deadline highlighting, among other things, the way Hollywood professionals who live in Maui have stepped up to help those impacted by the fires.
“Everybody wants to get the point now where they can do something to help, and Hollywood is always there to do that,” Hammond said.
If you’d like to help, contact:
• American Red Cross—To donate, call 1-800-435-7669, visit redcross.org/donate/donation.html, or text the word REDCROSS to 90999 to make a $10 donation.
• World Central Kitchen—To donate, visit wck.org.
• Jewish Commuity of Maui, visit https://www.mauijews.org/payment.php. Specify your donation is for JCM’s Maui Fire Relief.
• Baby2Baby—To donate, visit baby2baby.org.
• Maui Food Bank—Visit the food bank’s website at mauifoodbank.org/donate/.
• Maui United Way—The organization has launched Maui Fire and Disaster Relief Donation Page at mauiunitedway.org/disasterrelief.