HONOLULU (KHON2) — Oct. 8 marks two months since roughly 100 people perished in the deadly fires.
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“Every day is important and this mark in particular, we want to honor them and it happens to be the day they’re opening up so we want to make sure people take notice of our great loss,” said West Maui resident Sumya Schlea.
While Ritz Carlton and Montage were fairly empty, the smaller hotels in Kahana Napili, even Kaanapali were busy with visitors.
“We’ve been here for 4 days and it’s the best I’ve experienced,” said David Corona who is staying in Kaanapali. “Everybody here is always welcoming and kind.”
He said he didn’t see any messaging at the airport or on the plane and neither did KHON2.
Restaurants like Leilani’s on Kaanapali Beach had a busy lunch rush and one of the staff members said it was the busiest afternoon he’s seen so far.
Visitors were also seen paying their respects.
“I think it’s important for them to pay homage and understand who knows maybe they could be Paradise people or Katrina survivors,” said Schlea. “I feel there are so many people who have tragedy as a common denominator and if they want to give back or reverence than amen.”
Even part time residents felt the grief as they passed Lahaina for the first time.
“It was hard,” said part time resident Leslie Sexton behind tears. “I’m sorry.”
She said she’s seen and heard the mixed emotions from Lahaina residents.
“I think respective tourism is what’s needed right now and people need to understand there was a huge loss here, and they need to understand everybody grieves in a different way and takes their own time,” Sexton added.
Others said they just wanted to be part of the discussion with the governor on when to reopen.
“Get plenty frustration and it’s not so much pointed at visitors but the way we got this date, governor never consulted the people in the community so that’s where the frustration comes from, said Kekai Keaki of Lahaina Strong. “If we were able to be at the meeting table and be a part of the talks and maybe came up with a date we could all agree on.”
“We know not all visitors are bad we just say respect the families maybe not go into neighborhoods and do your videos and stuff like that maybe stay towards hotels and go to the other side of the island,” added Keaki.
Residents at a certain Kahana hotel were informed they would have to move out of their accommodations by October 10. The Red Cross is working with those residents to find them new housing.