We are completely heartbroken by the destruction on Maui. Our hearts go out to the Lahaina community and those impacted by wildfires across the state.
We understand that many complex, systemic factors led to the most devastating wildfires that the United States has experienced in over 100 years. Since the 1800s, Maui’s streams have been diverted, first for sugar and pineapple plantations and now resorts and development, which contributed to a loss of native ecosystems and gave rise to the spread of highly flammable, invasive grasses. Underlying drought conditions combined with a lack of wildfire prevention, now exacerbated by climate change and the impact of high winds brought on by a passing hurricane system, created conditions for a violent and fast-moving fire. Meanwhile, in the center of this tragedy are the residents of Maui, where 52% of households live below the basic cost of living and face long-standing disparities for communities, especially Native Hawaiians and Pacific Islanders, female-led households, families with children, and immigrant families.
Since wildfires devastated Lahaina and reached Kula, Maui Komohana, and Kohala on the Big Island, we have witnessed the strength of our Hawai’i community like never before. In this incredible moment of tragedy, neighbors have opened up their hearts and homes, organizations across the islands have stepped up to deliver basic necessities to those in need, and people from around the world have donated millions of dollars to help with recovery. This ability to come together, even in the face of disaster, has provided hope in a time of despair for Hawai‘i.
There will come a time for rebuilding. When that time comes, Blue Planet is committed to supporting efforts that center the needs of Lahaina residents who were directly impacted– ensuring community-led recovery planning efforts, addressing issues of affordability and inequity, and rebuilding sustainably and resiliently in response to a changing climate.
For now, our neighbors and communities who were affected need ongoing support. Here are a few ways that you can help:
- Lahaina Ohana Venmo is a mutual aid initiative, community-led and vetted by Lahaina residents to provide direct, immediate financial relief to families displaced by the fires. Please follow the Instagram account @lahaina_ohana_venmo to donate directly.
- The Chef Hui Maui Food Hubs Fund (donate here) and the Merriman’s Culinary Fund (donate here) are helping to support the restaurant and hospitality industry by working to produce, cook, and distribute meals to affected residents in West Maui.
- The Maui United Way Disaster Relief Fund will respond to immediate needs via daily grant approvals to existing grassroots organizations that are local and focused on basic needs. Donate here.
- The Kāko‘o Maui Fund is a donation campaign led by the Council of Native Hawaiian Advancement (CHNA) to aid communities impacted by the Maui wildfires. Donations received will go to Maui-based relief efforts for Native Hawaiian organizations, small businesses, ‘ohana, and cultural groups. Donate here.
- Hawaii Community Foundation’s Maui Strong Fund is providing financial resources that can be deployed quickly, with a focus on rapid response and recovery for the devastating wildfires on Maui. Donate here.
Ongoing Volunteer Opportunities:
- Volunteers are needed daily Monday – Friday between 8:30 am and 4:00 pm at the Maui Relief Storage Facility in Kaka‘ako, Oʻahu. This volunteer effort is being coordinated by the Council of Native Hawaiian Advancement in partnership with the Office of Hawaiian Affairs. Interested volunteers can sign up here and can learn more here.
- The Maui Nui Strong web portal was set up by the County of Maui to provide comprehensive and up-to-date information, resources, and services related to the Maui wildfires and ways to offer or get support.
- Instagram accounts that provide updates and information on Maui recovery efforts:
- Donation needs and emergency response: @mauirapidresponse @hawaii_ema @countyofmaui
- Legal assistance: @hawaiistatebarassociation @nativehawaiianlegal @rootsrebornlahaina
- Native Hawaiian issues: @kanaeokana @kakoohaleakala @hawaiiancouncil
- Environmental Justice: @sierraclubhi @hiprogressiveaction
- Health services: @hawaiidoh @hawaiicares998 @hscadv.808 @pacificbirthcollective
-Melissa Miyashiro and the Blue Planet team