Wildfire-hit Lahaina Sees Waves of Support

The Yomiuri Shimbun
Vehicles wait in line to collect relief supplies in Lahaina on the island of Maui in Hawaii, on Saturday.

LAHAINA, Hawaii ― Volunteer workers are flocking to Lahaina in the western part of the Hawaiian island of Maui, where wildfires have caused extensive damage.

The volunteers are helping provide food and other daily necessities to residents affected by the fires.

On Saturday morning, disaster-hit residents gathered at a relief supply center in a large parking lot in Lahaina, where about 150 volunteers were loading supplies including water, snacks, medicine and diapers into the open trunks of slow-driving cars.

One volunteer — a 39-year-old man visiting his former hometown from Salt Lake City, Utah for the first time in eight years — said he was keen to help people in the tragedy-stricken area, adding that it was difficult to hold back tears when witnessing the devastation wreaked by the fires.

Wiping sweat from his brow, he said: “Lahaina is one big family. If we support each other, we can get back on our feet.”

As of Saturday, about 1,200 people were staying in hotels provided by the authorities, while the number of residents sheltering in four evacuation centers on the island had dropped to 43.

Volunteers from the U.S. mainland organized a free barbecue for evacuees near a hotel in Lahaina on the day. “Support [like this] is helping us move forward,” said a barbecue visitor who lost his home in the fire.

As of Friday, local authorities had confirmed 114 wildfire-related fatalities.