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The First Videos Emerge From Maui’s Devastating Fires (and What You Can Do to Help)

by Matador Creators Aug 10, 2023

When it comes to natural disasters in Hawaii, volcano eruptions are more top-of-mind than wildfires, especially in light of the devastating eruption of Kilauea in 2018. This week, however, the Hawaiian island of Maui is being ravaged by wildfires, in one of the deadlines blazes the US has seen in years.

Sparked by a dry summer and strong winds from a passing hurricane, the Maui wildfire killed 36 people and destroyed hundreds of homes and other buildings. The damage was particularly devastating in Lahaina, a popular tourist destination now suffering irreparable blows to many of its homes and businesses. On Thursday firefighters were still fighting blazes on the island, with local officials making plans to shelter residents and evacuate thousands of visitors.

The fire, which started Tuesday, burned through the dry growth and rapidly picked up alarming momentum, catching the island completely by surprise. It has not only destroyed homes and businesses, but also knocked out electricity and cell service, making it tougher for people to get the help they need.

“There is no cell phone (service), there’s no electricity, there’s no devices to be used anywhere,” Laren Garter, owner of the Lahaina restaurant Cheeseburger in Paradise, told CNN. “We don’t know where our employees are. We have some people sleeping in their cars on the side of the highway with their families, their animals — and we haven’t been able to find them.”

While fundraising efforts are already underway to help restaurants like Cheeseburger in Paradise rebuild, Garter is skeptical. “Lahaina looks like a bomb went off,” she said. “The entire village has been turned into rubble…we’re going to need help from America.”

You can’t go down there and fight the fires yourself, but there are still plenty of ways to contribute and help the affected communities rebuild. Here are some aid organizations accepting donations.

  • The Hawaii Community Foundation– Supports communities affected by the wildfires.
  • Maui United Way– Provides immediate financial assistance through grants to nonprofits spearheading relief efforts, and to individuals who have been affected by the fires.
  • American Red Cross– Disaster relief for those forced to flee their homes.
    Maui Food Bank– Accepting money, food, toiletries, and other household items for those in need.
  • Maui Humane Society– Looking for volunteers to foster dogs displaced by the wildfires, as well as donations of pet food, litter, and pop-up kennels.

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