What We're Reading: Native Hawaiians organize aid for Maui fire victims as government lags
"The boats kept coming. One by one, cruisers and catamarans eased toward the beach in Kahana, a small and tightknit neighborhood just north of Maui’s hardest-hit areas," said Reis Thebault for Washington Post. "Each one was laden with supplies: generators, propane tanks, trash bags full of clothing and ready-to-eat meals. And each one was greeted by two dozen people, the first among them wading waist-deep into the ocean to retrieve provisions from the boat and pass them down the chain, which wound its way to shore."
“A lot of us are born and raised here,” Naki said, looking around as the chain of volunteers hauled in boxes of tinned sausage. “There’s a lot of pride in Lahaina, so it hurts, a lot. But this is all we have here now, each other, and we’re making do.”
As the response has worn on, the greatest needs have shifted. There is now plenty of nonperishable food and bottled water. Generators, fuel and Starlink satellite internet systems would be most useful, volunteers say.
Sheryl Nakanelua knew instinctively where she needed to go when she fled her Lahaina home as flames spread. She made her way to Kahana and set up a tent across from Lumlung’s house, where she’ll stay until her family is let back into her subdivision, one of the few that was spared.
“This is our family place, it’s home,” she said of the Kahana neighborhood. “This is the best part to be at. It’s what’s keeping us positive.”
The Olowalu farm is uniquely well prepared to handle this sort of disaster. Run by the Garcias’ nonprofit, Regenerative Education Centers, it was already operating off the grid, with its own power, plumbing and food. The nonprofit has launched a fundraiser to help pay for the fire effort, which will continue as long as there’s a need.
The property, even after being raked by the fire’s severe winds, is verdant and shaded by tall mango trees. On Friday, volunteers and staff readied the farm to fill any needs. They butchered and smoked a wild pig, set up new solar panels and scoured the internet for portable toilets. Eddy Garcia whirred with adrenaline, his satellite-connected cellphone ringing every few minutes with someone offering help.