Seventh-day Adventists are joining frontline disaster response activities to assist residents after the devastating wildfires in Lahaina, Maui.
“The situation in Hawaii is still developing and the disaster response community is still very much in response mode,” reported W. Derrick Lea, North American Division Adventist Community Services executive director in an Aug. 14, 2023 memo. “This effort will go on for a number of months and it is expected this historic recovery will last over a year.”
Mark Tamaleaa, Hawaii Conference ACS director, is leading local efforts to set up a shelter in Maui where 50 residents are currently housed. The Salvation Army is providing hot meals for sheltered individuals.
Additionally, the State of Hawaii asked Charlene Sargent, Pacific Union Conference ACS director, to serve as a subject matter expert at the Emergency Operations Center in Maui. This will allow the Adventist Church to provide specific resources and support in the near future.
Right now, current concerns, prayer matters and needs — as of time of reporting — are as follows:
- Police are monitoring looting issues in some areas around Maui.
- Donations have been paused so leaders can organize for better situation management.
- Citizens have been told to drink bottled water until further notice.
- Verizon Wireless has most of the island cell service up and running.
- The number of confirmed deaths is 93; experts predict this number will rise.
- Lodging is very limited, and the governor has restricted home rentals to displaced residents.
- A disaster recovery center will be opening soon.
- Total shelter population on the island is 707, down from 1,101, as people move into hotels and rental units.
Mobile response teams have not been solicited nor requested. Cash donations are the best way to support ongoing response efforts and can be made through Hawaii Conference via Adventist Giving. Look for “Maui Fires Relief” or “Maui Fires Relief Fund” on the digital giving envelope.
Tuesday, August 15
Recovery efforts in Hawaii continue to take shape as governmental and non-governmental organizations join hands to support those affected.
As of Aug. 15, 2023, fires continue burning in three locations and 4,890 residents are currently without power. The Federal Emergency Management Agency is assisting these efforts as well, with 250 employees on the island at present.
Lea, in his Aug. 15 update, said ACS continues to provide shelter for over 50 individuals who have been forced to leave their homes. Currently, ACS is providing lodging, food and emotional and spiritual care to these individuals. Additional response activities are in discussion between the North American Division, Pacific Union Conference and Hawaii Conference.