HAWAII – The people of Hawaii will forever remember August 8, 2023. In what’s being called one of the deadliest wildfires in U.S. history, flames overtook the island of Maui and almost completely destroyed the once-beautiful city of Lahaina. What remained was a long haul of recovery for residents in Hawaii to get back to some form of normalcy.
Although evacuation orders were given, storm winds drove the fire so far and so fast that people were trapped before they could escape. “Telephone poles were falling down left and right, and fires were getting started from all of the live wires hitting the ground,” recalled Alan, a wildfire survivor. He said that because of the strong winds, it all unfolded in minutes.
Alan tried to flee with his sons—including little 4-year-old Kaipo. But the road was gridlocked as fires burned within sight of their vehicle. Everyone wanted out.
“Fire was everywhere, burning everyone’s houses, making its way toward everyone and their vehicles as they tried to get away,” Alan said. Thankfully, he and his boys did survive the blaze, but their whole world had gone up in flames.
Helping Hawaiians In Need
Caring friends like you quickly reached out. Even as the inferno raged, members of Operation Blessing’s disaster relief team rushed to a neighboring island in Hawaii. From there they would offer help as soon as the fires died down.
Once the fires were contained, the extent of the devastation became clear. As they raced across over 3,200 acres of land, those destructive wildfires had taken more than 110 lives. It also destroyed 2,200 buildings—homes, businesses, medical facilities—in the process. When the ash settled, 11,000 people were homeless.
For many, one of the hardest things about losing their homes was losing their livelihoods, as well. Some people had manual labor jobs requiring tools that were ruined by the flames. As soon as we heard about this need, Operation Blessing supporters like you leapt into action to offer help. As it turned out, fishing and diving gear was critical for these island people. They still supplemented their families’ incomes via the water. And what a difference the tools and gear made for people like Alan!
“That chainsaw as well as the dive gear was … I don’t know what to say … you guys gave me something that I can use to provide for my ohana (family),” Alan shared. “To have stuff like that handed to us is like a dream come true. It’s hard to believe this is really happening.… Big mahalos (thanks) to you all. Thank you, guys, for taking the time and opportunity for helping those in need. You guys are truly a blessing.”
The fishing gear, along with some gas-powered grills you provided, ensured that disaster survivors had something to eat. But the next question was: Where would they live? Many stayed in tents provided by Operation Blessing. But they needed a more long-term solution as they worked to rebuild their homes and community.
Homes For Hawaiians Help Provide Hope
And once again, you heard their cries and provided support for the long haul in Hawaii. In partnership with King’s Cathedral Church and Family Life Center, we worked to provide temporary homes for displaced Hawaiians. These ready-to-assemble shelters are specially engineered to be set up in minutes and in all sorts of configurations. But they’re also designed to feel like a home.
The shelters will include private bathrooms and kitchens, hooked up to a fresh water system that Operation Blessing is working to install. Together, these homes will help form the ’Ohana Hope Village. Operation Blessing even helped transport these homes across America for the people of Maui.
Help For The Long Haul In Hawaii Is Happening Because Of YOU!
Because you cared, those who lost all they owned can have a safe, secure place to lay their heads and look forward to a brighter future. You’ve truly brought joy to their world. Thank you!