As the fire recovery efforts in Maui continue, Hawaii Conference — within Pacific Union Conference — continues to provide community aid while forming long-term plans.
In the first few weeks after the devastating fires, Adventist volunteers led by Mark Tamaleaa, Hawaii Conference Adventist Community Services director, provided shelter, food and emotional-spiritual support for more than 40 people who sheltered in Kahului, about 40 minutes from Lahaina. They also took time to listen to emerging needs — which are now informing long-term response support.
W. Derrick Lea, North American Division Adventist Community Services executive director, is currently in Maui and shared the following situation report from Tamaleaa:
INITIAL PHASE: Aug. 9, 2023 — Evacuated, sheltered and provided basic essential needs
[Adventist volunteers] immediately housed more than 40 evacuees at our shelter in Kahului, about 40 minutes from Lahaina. We fed, housed, replenished basic essential needs and gave each family a few thousand dollars to buy the necessary items they needed. Sadly, no money can bring back lost ones. We have transitioned the displaced evacuees to all to the temporary six- to eight-month housing FEMA has provided at hotels and Airbnbs.
NEXT PHASE: As soon as we receive funds for any of the projects below, we can begin the execution and implementation of [a long-term recovery] plan.
We have a Seventh-day Adventist church in Lahaina, 655 Waine'e St., Lahaina, HI 96761, that survived the fire. We are waiting for clearance into the heart of where the fire devastated our little town in Lahaina.
When they give us clearance, from this location we will launch our mobile services. As we have journeyed with our people from Hawaii, we are listening to our locals and processing how we can serve them best.
- PROJECT 400 SHEDS: We will build sheds on the properties of families who have lost everything. As they are already accumulating items here and there, including building materials and personal items, they have no home to put them in and a storage shed gives them a sense of stability.
- PROJECT FAMILY SIZED & DOUBLE OCCUPANCY SIZED TENTS: As families start to rebuild, a lot of them will want to stay on the land as their homes are being rebuilt. The tents give them options.
- PROJECT FOOD TRUCK: This is a top-of-the-line, customized commercial kitchen in a 24-foot truck that allows us to make custom local meals that our Filipino, Hawaiians, Samoans, Tongan and local Maui residents prefer to eat. This truck gives us the ability to give them meals cooked by aunties who cook these varying ethnic meals, giving our people a feeling of stability and love. The size of this food truck allows our volunteers to serve more than 100 custom meals with more than 6 volunteers who can cook and work comfortably in the mobile food truck.
- PROJECT MOBILE LAUNDRY TRAILER: With the only laundry service building burned down in town, we expect and anticipate that this will be a crucial need on a weekly and daily basis.
- PROJECT MOBILE SHOWER TRAILER: With possibly no running water, we want to provide the most basic needs of a warm shower.
- PROJECT MOBILE BATHROOM TRAILER: We want to be ready.
- TWO NEW F-250 TRUCKS ($70K each): These trucks, which can pull upwards of 15,000 pounds, will allow us take our mobile services to varying locations around Lahaina.
- DISTRIBUTION CENTER FOR DONATIONS AND GOODS: We want our Lahaina Church location to be a relevant center of influence in Lahaina.
- EMOTIONAL & SPIRITUAL CARE: We want to be able to sit down with our people and talk [about their] story and help them process, grief, loss, trauma and displacement. We believe the mobile services projects two through seven will build trust and rapport with the community that will open up opportunities for service nine.
Tamaleaa ends his situation report by saying, "I need your help. Partner with us and help me bring hope to my people."
If you would like to give financial assistance to any of these projects, you may donate to Hawaii Conference's Maui Fire Relief Fund at hawaiisda.com