HONOLULU (KHON2) — The fires on Maui have created a chaotic situation.
At this point, recovery crews are sifting through the ashes to locate bodies and to determine the extent of the damage, both to life and property.
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This has led to a bit of chaos when it comes to whether or not you need to travel to Maui for a holiday or vacation.
So, should you continue with your plans and go to Maui?
The best answer is, that it depends on where you are going.
According to the Hawaii Lodging and Tourism Association, there is a great deal of chaos swirling around both the short term and long-term impacts of the fires.
“There’s still too much uncertainty to accurately assess the condition of the affected areas, let alone the state of the visitor industry or the status of specific hotel properties and attractions,” said Mufi Hannemann, President and CEO of HLTA.
As of Wednesday, Aug. 16, Maui County Officials provided updates on how the fires are doing:
- The Upcountry/Kula fire, which was first reported on Tuesday, Aug. 8, is 75% contained. There has been an estimated 678 acres impacted by this fire. There continue to hot spots in gulches, forests and other difficult to reach locates; this includes land divisions and fences that make it difficult to establish complete control.
- The Lāhainā fire, which was first reported on Tuesday, Aug. 8, is 85% contained. There has been an estimated 2,170 acres impacted by this fire. There continue to be multiple crews that are assigned to monitor and address hot spots and flareups.
- The Pūlehu/Kīhei fire, which was first reported on Tuesday, Aug. 8, is 100% contained as of Saturday, Aug. 12. The Maui Fire Department does have personnel assigned to this area to ensure there are no flareups. There is no estimate on how much acreage was impacted.
- The Puʻukoliʻi / Kāʻanapali fire, which was first reported on Friday, Aug. 11, was fully extinguished by Saturday, Aug. 12. There was one acre impacted by this fire.
Maui Officials said that the National Guard is maintaining two military helicopters to address immediate fire related needs.
In considering going to Maui for your holiday, remember that as the fires continue to burn in some locations, full telecommunication’s services still have not been restored.
Hence, extra usage for you to upload photos of your holiday or use of communications to make phone calls and utilize email/internet are going to tax an already overtaxed system that locals need.
Then there are the displaced individuals and families that need accommodation. As of Tuesday, Governor Josh Green, M.D. announced collaborations with hotels and Airbnb to provide shelter. This will reduce the number of recreationally focused rooms available to visitors.
“Hoteliers tell us they’re overwhelmed at the moment, largely because of the human toll of the disaster,” explained Hannemann. “Many workers and their families are suffering, directly or indirectly.”
Finally, there are the pleas from locals.
Some parts of Maui are still open, although they are laden with evacuees. One resident put out a plea on Instagram in which he said that the other parts of Maui that are still open and in need of tourists to come since this is how they make their livelihood.
Another Maui resident, Sophia Long, said, “The same waters that our people just died in three days ago are the same waters the very next day these visitors – tourists – were swimming in.”
So, even amongst residents, there is not a consensus on what do to.
The governor also addressed the fact that those who go into Lāhainā risk trampling on the ashes of those who were lost to this fire.
So, the answer to whether you should travel to Maui is not as straightforward as we’d like it to be. Consider these questions as you determine whether you are going to cancel your plans or keep them:
- When you consider your already-booked plans, think about where you will be going and what impact your presence will make on the locals who continue to suffer.
- Will you be in the way?
- Will you be taking valuable and sometimes limited resources away from the locals that are impacted?
- Does your planned trip have the potential to offend the locals? (i.e. taking a boat tour of Lāhainā to gawk at the damage, swimming in the water where locals died trying to flee the fires, etc.)
- Does your planned trip include volunteering to help with recovery and will your help be welcomed or will your help simply be a part of the cacophony that is already there?
- Will your trip help with Maui’s economic recovery? Will a donation — i.e. the cost of your holiday, funds allocated for meals can be used to purchase meals via delivery service from local restaurants to feed first and emergency responders on Maui, etc… — be a better way to help with that recovery?
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Be cognizant of the situation that is occurring on Maui and determine how your holiday will impact what locals are experiencing.