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Maui’s emergency management chief resigns: latest update

Wildfire roars through Hawaii’s historic Lahaina

The head of the Maui Emergency Management Agency resigned on Thursday after officials came under increased scrutiny over the response to the devastating wildfires.

Herman Andaya submitted his resignation just one day after he defended his decision of not using outdoor alert sirens before the fires overwhelmed the historic community of Lahaina and killed at least 111 people.

Mr Andaya cited unspecified health reasons, with no further details provided in his letter.

“Given the gravity of the crisis we are facing, my team and I will be placing someone in this key position as quickly as possible,” Maui mayor Richard Bissen said in the statement.

Meanwhile, the search to find and identify victims remains painstakingly slow. Only 10 of the 111 victims so far killed in the fires have been identified.

Residents are also reporting that investors and realtors are trying to capitalise on the wildfires to purchase land from locals. “We’re not going to allow it,” Hawaii governor Josh Green said.

Mr Green said he expects re-building the burned area of Maui to cost $5 billion or more.


Hawaii teachers fear children will be among dead

As officials in Hawaii work to determine the identities of the over 100 people who died in the Maui wildfires, members of the community fear that children will make up a large part of that number.

When the fast-moving wildfires broke out on 8 August, many children were home from school because dangerous winds from a hurricane off the coast of Hawaii forced school closures.

Jessica Sill, an elementary school teacher at Lahaina King Kamehameha III, told The Wall Street Journal that she fears some children were home alone the day of the fires.

“Our parents work one, two, three jobs just to get by and they can’t afford to take a day off,” Ms Sill said. “Without school, there was nowhere for [children] to go that day.”

Kelly Gallego, an eighth-grade teacher at Lahaina Intermediate School said her heart breaks thinking about missing families.

“When it comes to thinking about some of those families not being there…I don’t have words to express how much my heart is breaking now,” Ms Gallego told WSJ.

Another elementary school teacher, Justin Hughey who works in special education, said he too is thinking about the aftermath of his students’ mental health.

“We don’t even know if our kids are still there, if the kids are still alive,” Mr Hughey told Civil Beat. “And then you gotta deal with all the trauma that the kids have gone through.”

Ariana Baio18 August 2023 17:20


71-year-old among the victims

The County of Maui announced on Thursday evening that among the victims is 71-year-old Donna Gomes of Lahaina.

Gomes, a mother and grandmother, died in the wildfires on 8 August.

Gomes’ grandchild created a GoFundMe to collect donations in order to support their family after they lost everything in the Maui wildfires.

“Not only have we lost our homes but our family is also grieving the loss of our family backbone,” Tehani Kuhaulua wrote.

Donna Gomes is among the victims of the Maui wildfires


Ariana Baio18 August 2023 17:00


More than half of burned area searched

Approximately 58 per cent of the burned area in Lahaina, Maui has been searched, officials in the County of Maui said on Thursday evening.

So far, 111 people have been found but only 10 have been identified.

Cadaver dogs are expected to continue the search for victims this week.

Hawaii governor Josh Green said he expected the death to rise as the search continues.

Ariana Baio18 August 2023 16:40


Video shows volunteers helping in wildfire relief

Ariana Baio18 August 2023 16:20


LA sports teams donate to Maui wildfires

Twelve professional sports teams from Los Angeles, California are teaming up to donate $450,000 to help those affected by the wildfires in Maui.

The Los Angeles Lakers, Clippers, Dodgers, Angels, Rams, Chargers, Sparks, Galaxy, LAFC, Kings, Anaheim Ducks and Angel City Football Club are apart of the initiative to provide support to the American Red Cross relief efforts.

“Southern California has long had a connection with the state of Hawaii with a massive Hawaiian community being present and many teams contributing to that connection throughout the years,” a press release from the LA teams reads.

“Notably, the Lakers held training camp in Hawaii for more than 25 years and have played numerous preseason games in Honolulu. In fact, the Showtime reunion in 2022 took place in Maui.”

Ariana Baio18 August 2023 16:00


Watch: Governor Josh Green provides update on 17 August

Ariana Baio18 August 2023 15:40


Department of Defense supporting FEMA in six missions

The Department of Defense (DoD) is assisting Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) personnel in Maui through six missions, they said in a press release.

The missions include operating a Defense Coordinating Element office, including liaison officers, assisting in air and sea transportation for moving supplies, cargo and equipment, using the Schofield Barracks to support life and emergency responders, strategising transportation of personnel and cargo, standing by for aerial fire suppression and suing the US Army Reserve Center as a base for FEMA.

Ariana Baio18 August 2023 15:20


Lahaina fire is 90 per cent contained

The first in Lahaina, Maui that began on 8 August is approximately 90 per cent contained, the County of Maui said in a Facebook post.

“There are no active threats at this time,” County of Maui wrote. “[Maui Fire Department] and United States Army Reserve were on site today.”

So far, the fire has burned an estimated 2,169 acres.

Once a fire is 100 per cent contained it means firefighters have the perimeter of the fire surrounded. When the fire burns out completely and there is nothing left burning it is finally declared extinguished.

Ariana Baio18 August 2023 15:00


Maui rebuilding efforts will likely cost more than a typical disaster relief

Already, doing business in Hawaii is 30 per cent more expensive than the cost of doing business in the rest of the United States. So now with many homes and businesses needing to be rebuilt, officials are expecting it to be very pricy.

One catastrophe modeling firm called Verisk told CNN that construction costs on Hawaii can expect to be 44 per cent more than typical.

“Based on similar historical events, this is likely conservative, as building delays and supply and demand cause additional pressures on reconstruction costs,” Verisk said.

Part of this reason is the cost of importing expensive materials like lumber to the island and paying for labour.

Ariana Baio18 August 2023 14:40


GoFundMe provides links to verified memorial and recovery funds

GoFundMe has created a section of its website dedicated to verified funds for those who died in the Maui wildfires and those who are in need of assistance.

The page includes a section for memorials that serve as fundraisers for the families of victims who perished in the wildfires.

Below that is a section for general individuals, families and businesses affected by the wildfires.

All of the funds posted to the page have been verified by GoFundMe’s Trust and Safety team.

Ariana Baio18 August 2023 14:10

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