The death toll from the devastating wildfires sweeping through the Hawaiian island of Maui has risen to 55, a number that the state’s governor anticipates will climb as search and rescue efforts continue. The blazes, which began on Tuesday night and were fanned by powerful winds from Hurricane Dora to the southwest, have destroyed homes and led residents to evacuate. They’ve also decimated the historic town of Lahaina, the former capital of the Hawaiian Kingdom and one of Maui’s biggest tourist destinations. More than 14,900 travelers have left Maui on flights as of Friday morning; FEMA says thousands of locals have been displaced. “Local people have lost everything,” James Tokioka, director of the Department of Business, Economic Development, and Tourism, said, per the Associated Press. “They’ve lost their house, they’ve lost their animals.”
President Biden has ordered “all available federal assets” to help the island, according to a statement from the White House. Firefighters continued to contain the wildfires and battle flare-ups into Friday, and so far the Coast Guard has rescued 14 people, including two children, who jumped into the water to escape the fire and smoke. Per CNN, the fires have wiped out cell-phone service in western Maui, complicating rescue efforts as cadaver dogs search for survivors. Aid groups are mobilizing to provide relief to those displaced by the disaster, one of the deadliest U.S. wildfires in recent years. Here’s how to help.
The Maui Food Bank is accepting donations as it provides meals to displaced residents.
The Salvation Army’s Hawaiian and Pacific Islands Division is also providing food to those in Maui emergency shelters — donate here.
Aloha United Way says donations to the Maui Fire Relief Fund will go directly to the Maui United Way, a nonprofit supporting those impacted.
Maui Rapid Response’s aid fund is distributing proceeds “to vulnerable Ohana in need, kupuna, persons with physical disabilities, renters and those who have no insurance or are underinsured,” per the group’s Instagram.
The American Red Cross is soliciting donations to help provide shelter to those evacuating from the disaster.
Source: The Cut