HONOLULU (KHON2) — Captain Chrissy Lovitt was one of the last people to step foot on Lahaina Harbor.
She recalled the relentless powerful winds and helping others get their boats out to sea as the smoke closed in.
“We didn’t really notice the fire had grown as quickly as it did and then we were trapped in the harbor, we couldn’t go north or south on land so our only choice was to go out to sea,” recalled Lovitt.
Lovitt jumped on a 10-foot skiff and helped people out of the harbor to a boat outside of the harbor.
She went back to get her boat when a strong 80+ mph gust killed the motor and blew her out to sea.
“We watched the harbor burn and there was just nothing we could do,” she said. “It was just unbelievable that the harbor, which is surrounded by water would actually burn down.”
Lovitt spent about 20 hours inhaling the toxic chemicals and smoke to try and save others who had jumped into the water. She recounts rescuing two kids.
“There about 70 people in the water so they were with their parents, and the Coast Guard had orders to save children first,” she said.
The following morning she was on west Maui shores with no cell service, no home, no working boat, and needed to get her lungs checked out. She threw her stuff in garbage bags, swam to a friends boat in Kaanapali and went to the emergency room on Lanai.
“They’re awesome,” Lovitt said of the people on Lanai. “They helped me so much and I think my cough just kind of calmed down only like, three days ago.”
Wednesday was the first day she tried to go in the ocean to heal, Friday is her birthday, and yet the tragedy still surrounds her from miles away.
We took a day to just kind of, maybe grab our snorkel gear, get in the water, take a walk on the beach, just, you know, my lungs were like, maybe we can get in the water, you know, just take a minute to just heal. And we went to the windward side of the beach and we could not get into the water at all because the amount of ash and the water and debris. It’s really extensive.”Chrissy Lovitt, former Lahaina boat captain
“There were pieces of haul, there are pieces of Lahaina harbor dock, there were some kids items, there’s household items, and all that stuff is pretty toxic,” she said. “I scooped up ash just pure ash that was in the shorebreak and then the high tide line, and it’s just a line of black all along the beach.”
It was kind of one of those days where, you know, we’re looking to kind of heal a little and and we were just brought right back to it and it was so solemn. It was sad because stuff was still washing up and it was still in the water. And that’s a month later, which is pretty, pretty incredible.”Chrissy Lovitt, former Lahaina boat captain
She said it’s going to be a very emotional birthday on Friday, one month following the fire.
She said one month later and many people in west Maui have no idea the level of devastation in Lahaina or at the harbor.
“Lahaina was incinerated, and that’s just the only way to describe it and boats in the harbor, they were incinerated,” she said.
She said for some people seeing it themselves will provide a sense of closure to understand mostly everything is gone.
She said one important place still remains intact, and that’s Mala Boat Harbor.
Although much smaller, she said it’s important for the county, state, and federal officials to work together to find a way to open up a harbor for the short term.
We need a port opened on the west side, Lahaina harbor is out of the question there is just too much debris, but Mala ramp is fine, and when we’re thinking long term, people on the west side of Maui are going to be hurting for years, and having that is an opportunity to go fish provide food for the family. And it’s also an opportunity to get in supplies from Molokai and Oahu.”Chrissy Lovitt, former Lahaina boat captain
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“It’s been a month and nothing in the harbors really happened or changed, it’s crazy,” she said