Lahaina, Hawaii, saw communities gathering in churches to mourn the dead and pray for the missing as the recovery begins following a devastating wildfire that swept through the historic Maui town. The fire claimed over 90 lives and wiped out a significant portion of the area Maui Wildfires Devastate, Hawaii’s churches offer prayers.
Hawaii Mourns Wildfire Victims and Begins Recovery
Maria Lanakila Church in Lahaina managed to escape the flames that ravaged the surrounding community. Parishioners attended Mass about 10 miles away, led by the Bishop of Honolulu, the Rev. Clarence “Larry” Silva. During the Mass, Silva read a message from Pope Francis, offering prayers for those who lost loved ones, homes, and livelihoods, as well as for the first responders.
The devastating effects of the wildfire are being deeply felt, with stories emerging of families who lost multiple members in the disaster. During the Mass, Taufa Samisoni, who lost several family members, found solace in Silva’s reference to the Bible story of Peter walking on water, drawing parallels to their journey of resilience and hope.
Efforts are underway to help the affected community rebuild. Hawaii officials are urging tourists to avoid traveling to Maui while hotels are being prepared to house evacuees and first responders. Thousands of residents and visitors have already left the area, and the focus now lies on the recovery and support of those who have been displaced.
Hawaii’s churches offer prayers
The governor of Hawaii, Josh Green, highlighted the importance of providing housing for those affected. The devastation has left thousands of structures destroyed, resulting in billions of dollars in damage. As the recovery continues, the priority remains on finding and helping those affected by the tragedy. The wildfire has been identified as the deadliest in the United States in over a century, and the search and recovery efforts are still in their early stages.
During the Mass, Rev. Clarence “Larry” Silva shared a message from Pope Francis, conveying the Pope’s prayers for those who suffered loss regarding loved ones, homes, and livelihoods. The message also extended prayers for the first responders who have been tirelessly aiding in the aftermath of the tragedy.
Rev. Silva, reflecting on the community’s concern for its children who have experienced this traumatic event, emphasized the importance of returning to a sense of normalcy. He mentioned that allowing children to be among their peers, and engaging in learning and activities can contribute to their healing and well-being.
Amidst the efforts to cope and recover, Hawaii officials advised tourists to avoid visiting Maui. The hospitality industry has responded by preparing hotels to accommodate evacuees and those who are providing emergency assistance. Since the disaster in Lahaina, around 46,000 individuals, both residents and visitors, have departed from Kahului Airport in West Maui, according to the Hawaii Tourism Authority.
Recognizing the gravity of the situation, the collective efforts of federal, state, and county governments, the local community, and the travel industry are directed towards supporting the recovery of those compelled to evacuate their homes and businesses. As a result, tourists are being encouraged to explore other islands within Hawaii during this challenging period.
Governor Josh Green shared plans to provide accommodations for those affected, ensuring that 500 hotel rooms will be available for locals displaced by the disaster. An additional 500 rooms will be designated for Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) workers. Some hotels also continue regular operations to maintain jobs and support the Maui Wildfires local economy.
In collaboration with Airbnb, the state aims to secure rental homes for displaced locals. The goal is to provide longer-term rentals lasting from three to nine months for those who lost their homes in the wildfire.
Overall, the community, local authorities, and various entities are coming together to navigate the aftermath of the wildfire and offer support to those affected Maui Wildfires Devastate.
The fast-moving wildfire killed 800 residents in Peshtigo alone and claimed as many as 2,400 total victims, making it the deadliest fire in recorded North American history. An illustration of The Great Fire of Peshtigo in Wisconsin. In a chaotic scene, people are shown trying to run and flee the fire Maui Wildfires Devastate.