News outlets are reporting the Lahaina, Maui wildfire to be the deadliest wildfire in the United States in over 100 years. At least 114 people are confirmed dead in the fire with over 800 people still unaccounted for. To date, more than 2,200 homes have been destroyed and another 500 in Lahaina were damaged by fire and smoke. The damage cost is estimated at nearly $6 billion.
Maui has been under a housing crisis for decades, creating adverse living conditions and tension for many. Uncertain futures, grief, sadness and numbness abounds in the hearts and minds of survivors. In the midst of this, Hope Force is seeking to demonstrate the love and compassion of God by extending help and inspiring hope on behalf of the residents of Maui.
While Hope Force International (HFI) has already deployed resources for supplies, HFI is also sending an assessment team on Thursday — including staff member Aaron Stetson and HFI Reservist Alan Weisenberger. They are tasked with assessing the need and identifying a way to meaningfully engage in the days ahead. They will work closely with our partners at YWAM Ships Kona and their advance team — some of whom are from Lahaina. A major objective is to learn how we can serve survivors — particularly those whose homes have been damaged or destroyed. In these tragic and intense scenarios, surrounded with so much pain and chaos, rebuilding must be done in collaboration with the local population — ensuring we honor their pain
and the desire to somehow rebuild in a way that doesn’t destroy their culture.
In collaboration with our partner, YWAM Ships Kona, essential supplies have been delivered to Maui. We learned of something quite amazing that we want to share with you. A group of 60 young people took the initiative to personally purchase tickets and fly from Kona to Maui in order to carry the boxes of supplies. Even the Southwest crew were excited and shared with the whole plane how the team was serving in the relief efforts. Their selflessness and commitment are truly inspiring.
The very brief video below captures some of this story.