Best ways for Big island residents to help Maui fire recovery efforts now and longterm

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Hawaiʻi County Mayor Mitch Roth has issued guidance about how Hawaiʻi Island residents can help Maui with its ongoing recovery efforts from the devastating fires.

This guidance has been shaped by the insights of Hawaiʻi Island officials who attended the initial Task Force meeting on Aug. 10 — and leaders from Maui County, non-profit organizations and local communities that have been in touch over the past 96 hours.

There also are many ways individuals are connected to the Maui devastation and Roth encourages responses that match those connections.

Nevertheless, the guidance highlights existing capacity challenges and where aid can help most.

“We understand that everyone wants to help Maui right now,” Roth said. “It is what makes Hawaiʻi such an amazing and special place. However, it is important to remember that Maui’s recovery will be a marathon and not a sprint.

“There are definitely needs that need to be addressed, but it cannot happen all at once. We need to be coordinated and thoughtful to minimize our footprint and maximize our impacts. This guidance aims to achieve these objectives in the short term and set the stage for long-term success.” 


Contribute to High-Impact Organizations

The most effective immediate contribution is monetary donations to established community-focused organizations with a strong track record of efficiently distributing funds where they will have the greatest influence. These include:

  1. Hawaiʻi Community Foundation’s Maui Stong Fund
  2. Council for Native Hawaiian Advancement’s Kākoʻo Maui Fund 
  3. Maui United Way’s Maui Fire Disaster Fund 

Hold off on physical goods… for now

We know that everyone is eager to donate what they have to the families that lost everything. That’s “local” style and what makes Hawaiʻi such a special place. 

While the natural inclination is to provide material goods to families who have lost everything, there is presently no clear mechanism to ensure these items promptly reach those in need. Until a reliable distribution system is in place, it is advised that residents on Hawaiʻi Island refrain from sending physical donations. This approach safeguards both our local community and the broader Hawaiʻi Island population until a clear assessment of needs and on-site resources is available to ensure effective distribution.


Help house those who are displaced

The West Hawaiʻi Realtors Association has curated a housing inventory catalog, encompassing not just Hawaiʻi Island but the entire state in collaboration with other real estate associations.

They will launch a website that will detail all of the available housing options in real-time, and also offer those willing to offer up a second home, vacation rental, ʻohana unit or additional space for a displaced Maui resident. 

Interested parties should visit later Sunday afternoon for more information. 

Share your talents when the time is right


Numerous members of our community have reached out, offering a diverse range of valuable skill sets that could be deployed to aid in the recovery of Lahaina and the wider Maui community.

From architects, engineers and home builders to solar companies, truckers, shippers, pilots and mental health specialists, many have expressed their willingness to contribute. While the recovery process is still in its early stages, these valuable talents have been acknowledged, and all residents will be engaged as Maui formulates its next steps forward.

Stay put until Maui is ready for us

“While the desire to lend a hand is strong, it is crucial to remember that Maui’s resources are currently stretched thin,” the county news release said. “Each individual sent over requires resources like food, fuel and shelter that could otherwise support displaced residents. This isn’t to say that our assistance isn’t appreciated; it’s just that we need to ensure that our footprint is minimal while our impact is meaningful.”

“Maui will communicate when it is prepared to accept outside assistance. However, if you have displaced family members requesting help, please heed their call. Our intention is not to speak on their behalf; rather, we aim to limit any unintended adverse effects.

This guidance will be continually updated to reflect the evolving situation on Maui. Over the following weeks, Hawaiʻi County and its Task Force will continue collaborating with Maui’s leadership and Hawaiʻi Island residents to ensure consistent communication, thoughtful cooperation and optimal outcomes.

“The county expresses gratitude for the community’s willingness to support Maui’s recovery efforts and commends their patience during this prolonged period of revitalization,” the news release said.

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