Hawai’i County Council offers support to Maui and victims of deadly wildfires
August 16, 2023, 3:21 PM HST
The Hawai‘i County Council on Wednesday joined the outpouring of aloha and support from around the globe for Maui as relief and recovery efforts continue following deadly wildfires that have claimed more than 100 lives and destroyed the historic West Maui community of Lāhainā.
The Council’s leadership also said Hawai‘i County stands ready to help.
“We are of course deeply, deeply saddened and heartbroken by the events in Maui,” said Chairwoman Heather Kimball prior to calling the Council’s regular session to order. “Just an uphathomable tragedy.”
As of Tuesday afternoon, the confirmed death toll from the wildfires on the Valley Isle had risen to 106, with just two of the victims — 74-year-old Robert Dyckman and 79-year-old Buddy Jantoc — officially identified so far. Several others have been named by family members on GoFundMe.
Hundreds more are still unaccounted for and no official list of missing people has been publicized.
“Our hearts go out to those who have lost loved ones, friends, family,” Kimball said. “We share hope with those that are still waiting to hear from family members that have been missing.”
The Lāhainā Fire, which left a path of destruction spanning nearly 3.5 square miles, has been described as the nation’s deadliest wildfire in the past century.
As of Tuesday night, that fire — which was first reported Aug. 8 — was 85% contained and had burned an estimated 2,170 acres. Multiple fire crews are monitoring and address any flareups; there are no active threats at this time.
“We offer our support to those who have lost everything in Lāhainā and of course acknowledge the place itself and the loss of a truly important part of our cultural history,” Kimball said.
After observing a moment of silence and a comment in Hawaiian from Council Vice Chairman Holeka Inaba, Kimball commended the continuing efforts of first responders.
“I’d like to express our gratitude to all of the first responders in Hawai‘i that were in Lāhainā and Maui that were so important in preventing more loss of life, some of whom have lost everything themselves,” she said.
The chairwoman also thanked all those organizations and agencies on the ground helping with recovery.
“We are standing now, days away, from one of the worst disasters to occur in our state and we pray that God comforts the mourners and helps all those in need,” said Rabbi Levi Gerlitzky of Chabad Jewish Center Big Island during his invocation before Wednesday’s Council meeting.
He said death is one of the most unexplainable concepts people face, posing the questions why did someone die when they did, why did God choose one person to live longer than the other and why did the person have to suffer before his or her death?
“There’s an infinite difference between us and God and there is no way for us to understand His mysterious ways,” the rabbi said. “We cannot comprehend; however, in spite of the pain of bereavement, we acknowledge that ultimately, the True Judge knows what He is doing.
“May we, from now on, only share in happy news and joyous ocassions together.”