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Hawaii Issues New Travel Warning For Maui Following Wildfires
On Aug. 13, the state of Hawaii issued a new travel warning for Maui following devastating fires. According to The Guardian, travel to the Hawaiian island is being discouraged. Ninety-three people have been killed in the fire while 46,000 residents and tourists have been flown out of the island.
“In the weeks ahead, the collective resources and attention of the federal, state and county government, the West Maui community, and the travel industry must be focused on the recovery of residents who were forced to evacuate their homes and businesses,” the Hawaii Tourism Authority said in a statement late Saturday.
According to The Guardian, travel to the rest of the Hawaiian islands is not being discouraged. Governor Joshua Green has reserved 500 hotels to accommodate displaced residents in Lahaina, the area most impacted by the fires. An additional 500 rooms also are being set aside for Federal Emergency Management Agency workers. Governor Green also noted that some hotels would continue with business as normal, despite the fires to ensure the local economy stays afloat.
Devastation in West Maui
Local officials also are hoping vacation rental companies, like Airbnb, will work with the state to provide extended rentals to locals who lost homes in the fire.
The fire is considered to be the worst wildfire in Hawaiian history. Search and rescue crews have only been able cover three percent of the affected area. According to Governor Green, at least 2,200 buildings have been damaged or destroyed in West Maui. The total losses amount to over $6 billion.
“It will certainly be the worst natural disaster that Hawaii ever faced,” Green said. “We can only wait and support those who are living. Our focus now is to reunite people when we can and get them housing and get them health care, and then turn to rebuilding.”
Celebrity Support For Locals
Many celebrities have expressed support for Hawaiian locals devastated by the fire. Actor and Hawaiian native Jason Mamoa discourage tourists from traveling to Maui.
“Maui is not the place to have your vacation right now,” Mamoa said on Instagram. “Do not convince yourself that your presence is needed on an island that is suffering this deeply.”
Oprah Winfrey was spotted at an evacuation center at War Memorial Stadium in Maui. She told the BBC she came to help hand out supplies and, despite the overwhelming loss, she was happy people were showing up to support Hawaiian locals.
“I came earlier, just to see what people needed, and then went shopping because often you make donations of clothes or whatever, and it’s not really what people need,” Winfrey said to the BBC. “I actually went to Walmart and Costco and got pillows, shampoo, diapers, sheets pillowcases.”
According to CBS News, the exact cause of the Maui disaster is unknown. However, Governor Green told CNN that he believes dry climate and global warming caused the flare.
“It is a product, in my estimation, of certainly global warming combined with drought, combined with a super storm, where we had a hurricane offshore several hundred miles, still generating large winds,” Green told CNN.