The Hawai‘i Life Charitable Fund (HLCF) at the Hawai‘i Community Foundation recently donated $12,400 to West Maui fire relief efforts. The funds supported Maui-based non-profit organizations assisting with damages incurred from three separate brush fires that swept across West Maui in the early morning hours of August 24, 2018, exacerbated by Hurricane Lane’s strong winds.
The Hawai‘i Life Charitable Fund pledged to match every dollar donated between September 1st and September 30th. Included in the $12,400 final tally was a generous corporate donation of $5,000 from Hawaii Life Real Estate Brokers to help with this cause. With a focus on the priorities of clean up, repair and rebuilding efforts, the funds were distributed to the following charities:
$9,300 to Habitat for Humanity
What began as a night of hurricane preparation in West Maui turned into a curveball that no one had envisioned. Many Maui residents were suddenly awakened and evacuated at 4 a.m. as a 50-foot wall of brush fire rapidly worked its way to the densest part of West Maui’s resident population in Lahainaluna and along Front Street. Additional brush fires at Māʻalaea and Kāʻanapali were also threatening residents in those areas. Terrified families gathered what they could, including kids, pets, rations, blankets and valuables, wondering all the while if they would have anything left to come home to. All of this occurred before Hurricane Lane was scheduled to reach the island of Maui the following day.
While Maui residents were lucky to have avoided a direct hit from the storm, heavy hurricane rains would have been welcomed. By sunrise, homes were burnt to the ground, many families displaced, and nearly the entire hillside of West Maui was scorched. Residents used the word “apocalyptic” more than once to describe the resulting scene. In the end, almost 2,500 acres of West Maui land went up in flames throughout that night (30 acres at Māʻalaea, 1500 acres from Lahainaluna to Launiupoko, and an additional 800 acres near Kāʻanapali). Despite 48 mph winds, and through the brave and truly amazing work of first responders, the fires were eventually extinguished, avoiding additional damage to property and land.
Everyone on Maui knows someone who was affected by the fires. The scope of the damage has been broad – from multi-million dollar estates on the hill, to single-family homes and multi-unit rentals in Lahainaluna. Plenty of families living “off the grid” in the Kauaula Valley and homeless residents have been displaced by the fires. While this event is a distant memory for many statewide residents, several Maui families are still in need as repair and rebuilding efforts continue.
If you would like to donate to these organizations through Hawai‘i Life Charitable Fund (HLCF) at the Hawai‘i Community Foundation, please visit give.hawaiilife.com and reference West Maui Fire Relief in the online donation form.