Thousands of residents on Maui and the Big Island of Hawaii were forced to abandon their homes, pets and belongings Tuesday evening amid the blight of wildfires ravaging towns on the island, including the historic town of Lahaina.
The natural disaster has left at least 36 people dead, others injured and hundreds of families displaced. Several roads on the islands are closed, communication pathways are affected and airports are packed.
Several shelters are open to assist those on the islands and several local organizations are collecting donations. USA Today compiled resources for Americans from near and afar to help the people and animals in Hawaii.
Red Cross working with residents, tourists in Hawaii
The American Red Cross is assisting residents and tourists in Hawaii with “shelter and comfort to those affected by the massive fires.”
“Red Cross disaster workers responded immediately, opening shelters on both islands where several hundred people sought refuge from the fires Tuesday night,” the organization’s website said. “The Red Cross is working with local, state and federal officials and more help is on the way.”
They are asking people who come to the shelters to bring essentials, including “prescription and emergency medications, extra clothing, pillows, blankets, hygiene supplies, important documents and other comfort items” with them.
And “for those who have already evacuated,” a memo from their website reads, “don’t return home until officials say it is safe to do so.”
‘Maui Strong’: How to help fire victims
Maj. Gen. Kenneth Hara, from the Hawaii State Department of Defense, asked those who want to donate supplies or volunteer to do so through the Hawaii Emergency Management Agency. James Kunane Tokioka, director of the department of business, economic development and tourism, said the governor has also asked people with vacant homes or vacation rentals to provide shelter for those in need.
USA TODAY compiled resources for Americans to help people and animals in Hawaii here.
By Wednesday, the Hawaii Community Foundation said its Maui Strong Fund had raised more than $1 million to support residents affected by the wildfires. Funding will be used for “evolving needs, including shelter, food, financial assistance and other services as identified by our partners doing critical work on Maui,” the foundation said in a statement.
Shelters opening at different locations
Shelters are also open at six locations – Mayor Hannibal Taveres Community Center, Maui Prep Academy, Kihei Community Center, the Maui High School gym and the War Memorial Gym – for residents and tourists on Maui, according to the Maui Emergency Management Agency. The agency called has called on residents on several parts of the island, including Launiupoko Estates area and Punakea Loop most recently, to evacuate.
Maui Humane Society seeks help for pets; other ways to assist
The Maui Mutual Aid Fund is collecting donations to help people affected by the fires, according to KITV 4.
“All funds will be distributed as quickly as possible to vulnerable ‘Ohana in need, kupuna, persons with physical disabilities, renters and those who have no insurance or are underinsured,” the group shared on Instagram.
The Maui Humane Society is asking people to assist with aid to pets affected by the disaster. The group is asking people to foster pets in need, “drop off dry and wet pet food, litter and pop-up kennels” and to donate.
And New Life Kahuku Inc., a nonprofit organization based out of Kahuku, is asking for Americans to donate as they help “bring food and supplies directly to individuals and families affected by this devastation.
By Wednesday afternoon, the group had raised more than $140,000. The funds will be used “to help aid Lahaina Ohana’s with food and hygiene in this horrific time,” according to a post from the organization, including a link to donate, on Instagram.
Maluhia Collective, a small, family-owned boutique in Maui, and other local businesses currently unaffected by the fires are organizing supply drop-offs for first responders from the Maui Fire Department, “who still have not slept or rested in over 24 hours,” Tianne Yamashita, the owner of the shop, wrote to USA Today.
The business, located in Wailuku, Hawaii, about 22 miles from Lahaina, is collecting snacks, premade food and drinks that are compiled and sent over to fire stations. Yamashita said most people are in “fight or flight mode. I think most of us are in shock because some of the footage from friends and family in the severely affected areas don’t even seem real.”
“There are only pockets of communities not yet affected that are able to help out,” Yamashita said. “We are just so grateful to have a space that is still safe and out of harm’s way so that we can continue to help the community.”
GlobalGiving has also launched a Hawaii Wildfire Relief Fund, which it says will be used in the short term to provide food, water and supplies to survivors, and in the long term will help with recovery efforts. The organization said it will focus donations toward supporting locally run organizations, “particularly those working with low-income, historically underserved communities.“
Contributing: N’dea Yancey-Bragg, Itzel Luna, Jeanine Santucci, USA TODAY
Contact Kayla Jimenez at email@example.com. Follow her on X, formerly Twitter, at @kaylajjimenez.