In an aerial view, palm trees burned by a wildfire line the waterfront of Hawaii

Too Many Non-Hawaiians Are Reacting to the Deadly Maui Fires With Selfishness

Amid the devastating and deadly fires in Maui, Hawai’i, the response from some individuals has been unbelievably selfish. Maui and the Island of Hawai’i have been devastated by six fires that broke out across the islands beginning on August 8 and are still burning. It’s unclear what ignited the fires initially, but dry conditions combined with high winds from Hurricane Dora greatly contributed to the size and spread of these fires. The worst blaze that broke out was in the historic town of Lahaina, which was once the capital of the Hawaiian Kingdom.

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While the fire in Lahaina has been 85% contained as of the writing of this article, it has left nothing but devastation in its wake. The full extent of the losses is still unknown, but the majority of the town is believed to be lost or damaged, including several historical landmarks like the Waiola Church and the banyan tree. Even more tragic is the loss of life in the fire. More than 90 lives have been lost in the Maui fires, and officials fear that the number will only continue climbing as crews race to extinguish the remaining fires and find survivors. It is estimated at least 1,000 are unaccounted for in the Hawai’i fires. Meanwhile, there are still many hazards as fires continue to blaze, evacuees scramble to find shelter, and officials warn of toxic hazards in the air and water.

Unfortunately, as the fires continue to devastate Hawai’i and as the full extent of their impact becomes known, many non-Hawaiians have had shockingly callous responses to the major disaster.

Some people need to rethink their response to Hawai’i fires

While the situation in Hawai’i has sparked an outpouring of support as people seek ways to help and send their thoughts or prayers to the state, some of the responses have placed their concern for tourists over the plight of Hawai’i and its residents. Many individuals have posted to social media describing how they visited or vacationed in Lahaina as if this fact alone is what makes the situation devastating. They seemingly only care that it was their favorite vacation destination and are only focused on what the island meant to them as a visiting tourist while not commenting on the loss of life, homes, and businesses that the actual residents of Lahaina are experiencing.

Even more shocking, though, is that it isn’t just ignorant internet users expressing this sentiment. According to one report, 4,000 visitors who were in Maui for tourism are being flown from Maui to Oahu, and that shelter, security, and food service were being prepared for them. Of course, one can’t help but feel shocked that American tourists are being flown to other parts of the state to continue damaging the environment while countless actual residents are seeking shelters or staying in temporary shelters that won’t hold up for long. It is similar to how tourists have taken precedence over Native Hawaiians, who are facing elevated homelessness due to the tourism industry and have seen Hawai’i’s ecosystem badly damaged from over-tourism.

Fortunately, many have taken the opportunity to call out the selfish response to those more concerned about their vacation destination than the devastation in Hawai’i.

How to help Hawai’i

All those individuals who have visited Hawai’i in the past are better off refraining from commenting on the situation and instead donating. If they have enough money to enjoy Hawai’i as tourists, they likely have enough money to help the islands during this crisis. Fortunately, there are many ways in which individuals can help. Hawai’i Gov. Josh Green has highlighted the Hawaii Community Foundation as a means to donate. The Hawaii Community Foundation has set up a Maui Strong Fund, which is being used to support the local communities impacted by the wildfire.

United Way has also established a Maui Fire and Disaster Relief Fund that Maui County has endorsed. The Maui Mutual Aid Fund is established by volunteers looking to support Maui residents, especially vulnerable displaced individuals. The Maui Humane Society is also accepting donations, noting that their animals are safe and they are looking for resources to welcome more displaced pets and reunite pets and their owners. The Maui Food Bank is providing food to displaced residents, with every $1 donation allowing them to provide four meals to the community. The Maui Economic Opportunity’s Maui Fires Fund is also accepting donations to put together a housing program for the displaced. Red Cross Wildfire Response in Hawaii is accepting donations and also seeking volunteers from neighboring islands.

Internet users are also helping compile threads of verified funds accepting donations. Those living in Hawai’i may also be able to find drop-off locations to donate food, water, clothing, toiletries, and other necessities.

(featured image: Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)


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Rachel Ulatowski
Rachel Ulatowski is an SEO writer for The Mary Sue, who frequently covers DC, Marvel, Star Wars, YA literature, celebrity news, and coming-of-age films. She has over two years of experience in the digital media and entertainment industry, and her works can also be found on Screen Rant and Tell-Tale TV. She enjoys running, reading, snarking on YouTube personalities, and working on her future novel when she's not writing professionally. You can find more of her writing on Twitter at @RachelUlatowski.