Maui family recounts experience evacuating their home
Fitu and Una Taukeiaho have lived on Maui for over 20 years and join ABC News to recall their experience evacuating Lahaina and returning to visit their destroyed home.
At time of writing (15th Aug), the death toll of the Maui wildfires have reached 99 with Hawaii Governor Josh Green telling local media the death toll is likely to increase “very significantly” and could double over the next 10 days. This makes the Maui wildfires the deadliest in the United States in over 100 years.
As the number of casualties continues to increase, authorities are confronting inquiries regarding their readiness for an event of this magnitude and their response to the situation:
- Despite the rapid expansion of the lethal fires into residential areas, the world's largest siren system remained inactive. Communication with residents in times of emergency was predominantly reliant on mobile phones and broadcasting, a period during which most power and cellular services were already disrupted.
- The principal electricity provider in the state, Hawaiian Electric, is currently dealing with a lawsuit alleging that power lines toppled by strong winds contributed to the destructive Lahaina wildfire. However, the official cause of the wildfire has not been definitively ascertained.
- In the previous year, Hawaii's emergency management agency declared that the risk posed by wildfires to human life was minimal. Officials miscalculated the deadly potential of wildfires, even as they acknowledged inadequate resources to effectively mitigate such incidents, as evidenced by records.
Kanaka Maoli have banded together despite battling hardships and losing homes, coordinating a large-scale disaster relief effort serving everyone in need. A parade of boats brought desperate locals much needed supplies, including generators, propane tanks, trash bags full of clothing and ready-to-eat meals.
“There’s no government agency helping us — this is it... this is our home, our community,” said Jareth Lumlung, who helped arrange donation hub.