Amurtel supporting recovery in Maui, Hawaii
The devastating fire that left most of Lahaina in ashes burned over 2,000 structures, mostly homes, and estimates are that more than 500 people have died. 111 bodies have been found, but only 3% of the area has been covered and many people are missing with the recovery effort ongoing.
Below is a report from Steve Phillips, general manager of Local Harvest, Amurt/Amurtel volunteer, and resident of Lahiana.
“On Tuesday evening I was driving my daughter to the airport. When we approached Lahaina, we could not get through. We saw a huge wall of black smoke covering the sky around the city and were forced to turn back. That night and the next morning we heard more of the story. Information was hard to get as the electricity was out, phone service was unreliable and the internet was down. We had some food at our farmers market in Napili that we put out for people to take the next morning. There were hundreds of people staying in cars near our market site at Maui Preparatory Academy and at the Napili Plaza. Most stores were closed, as well as gas stations, because there was no electricity. One supermarket opened for a day and there was a line of 300 people there throughout the day. There are relief tents set up in several locations with food and supplies. Most of the food is non-perishables. Our focus is on local fresh produce and other healthy foods. This will not only help those in need, but also the farms that have lost much of their customer base.
I had attended the Food Hub Hui planning retreat on the Big Island the weekend after the fire and our company, Local Harvest, is working with non-profits including World Central Kitchen, Homeless Heroes Hawaii, the Hawaii Food Hub Hui, and the Hawaii Farmers Union. We are also working with relief camps and restaurants who are preparing free meals. We are supplying local produce to meal prep locations that make a total of 10,000 meals per day for those in need and also supplying 500 variety boxes (building to 1,000) per week of fresh produce to be distributed to families.
There are so many heartbreaking stories. There was one woman with a one-month-old baby and a three-yea-old son. They were escaping through the fire in their car, but it broke down. Another vehicle stopped to help them while embers were flying all around. They squeezed into that other car and all narrowly escaped. They ended up in a shelter, were then moved to another shelter and finally ended up in a hotel where my sister was staying at the time. That is where I heard her story.
Another woman who came to our food distribution had to escape by jumping into the ocean and staying there for eight hours through the night. Another family did the same, hanging onto a piece of plywood for the night while holding their two-year-old child.
School was let out early on the day of the fire and children went home, but in many cases their parents were not home. The children did not know they had to evacuate, and many died in the fire.
Also, several vendors at our farmers market lost their homes and their businesses.
I am sure you have heard many other sad stories. It will be a long recovery for West Maui. Lahaina was one of the most prized cities of Hawaii, full of cultural and historical significance. Thanks for any help you can offer. Funding relief efforts is the most valuable thing you can do at this time. Mahalo (Hawaiian for Thank You)”
All donations will be used to provide food and other basic necessities for those effected by this horrific fire. Thank you for your support.