At least 59 people have died in a series of devastating wildfires that have struck Maui this week, according to Hawaii Governor Josh Green. Green stated that although wildfires occur every year in the region, they have always been successfully contained. However, this time is different, as the convergence of a fire, a hurricane, and gale force winds near one of their towns has created unprecedented challenges.
The Hawaiian Department of Defense has estimated that around 1,000 people may be missing, although this figure has not been confirmed. As a result of the fires, over 11,000 people have been evacuated from the affected areas. In response to the situation, the Biden administration has declared the wildfires a major federal disaster, making additional relief resources available.
Officials have reported that more than 1,000 structures have been burned as a result of the fires. Maui has been particularly hard hit, with much of the historic town of Lahaina being completely destroyed. This disaster is expected to be one of the worst in the state’s history, with the death toll nearing the number of fatalities in a 1961 tsunami, which claimed 61 lives.
The fires began on Tuesday, fueled by strong winds and unusually dry summer conditions. These conditions left residents and visitors in Lahaina with little time to prepare and protect themselves. Some people were forced to flee the town with only a few possessions, while others sought refuge in the water. The US Coast Guard rescued at least a dozen people from the water.
In light of the emergency, the public has been advised that monetary donations are the most effective way to help. Victor Leonardi, divisional director of emergency services and safety for The Salvation Army Hawaiian & Pacific Islands Division, emphasized the importance of providing funds for the exact relief supplies needed by the affected communities. The Salvation Army utilizes 100% of all donations designated for disaster relief to support their operations.
Jeff Bezos, the founder of Amazon who resides part-time in Hawaii, has pledged $100 million towards the rebuilding efforts. This generous contribution will provide significant support in the aftermath of the wildfires.
In conclusion, the wildfires in Maui have caused significant loss of life and destruction of property. The convergence of multiple natural disasters has posed unprecedented challenges for the region. Efforts are underway to provide relief and support to the affected communities, with monetary donations being the most effective way for the public to contribute. Jeff Bezos’ substantial pledge will undoubtedly make a significant impact in the rebuilding process.