Maui community came together as fires caused evacuations

Local News

As the smoke starts to clear over Maui, stories of kindness and community are starting to emerge.

From a birthday luau turning into an emergency shelter to residents fostering animals, the Maui community stood together.

The Maui Humane society was forced to evacuate on Thursday after a large brush fire quickly spread toward them.

“When we got the word to go, that it was go time, we put the word out to the community and I tell you at this moment I am overwhelmed by the response that we received,” said Jarleen Bryant, Maui Humane Society CEO.

She said cars, trucks, even busses came to help load all 250 animals from the shelter. 

For the next two days, MHS staff and volunteers stayed with the animals at Maui high school.

“Many of them didn’t even go home over the two day period, not even to change clothes or get some rest,” Bryant said.

Local shops and restaurants brought food to MHS and rescue crews, while others made sure the animals had everything they needed including a foster home.

“For our community to step up and say we’ll take 157 animals in less than a two day period was incredible,” Bryant said.

The shelter was given the green light to re-open today.

“Mahalo to the firefighters, the first responders, and to the community for helping us and caring about the animals and to my staff. Thank you just doesn’t seem enough,” Bryant said.

Roads were shut down in and out of Kihei on Thursday while the fire spread, forcing hundreds of people to seek shelter.

But for those who ended up at the Kihei Community Center’s emergency shelter had an unsuspecting surprise.

Kathleen Cardenas-Haro was getting ready for her son’s first birthday party when the emergency alerts to evacuate went out.

“They told us we have to use [this place] for evacuation so we cleaned up, they apologized, we told them it was fine,” her sister-in-law said.

With the majority of the family stuck in Lahaina and unable to attend, and people starting to arrive at the emergency shelter, they decided to share their food with strangers.  

“We decided to put everything out because there were enough people to feed, there was a lot of food so we’re like perfect this is the exact amount of people who were going to come to the party that we invited,” Cardenas-Haro said.

The family gave all the kids at the shelter cotton candy, popcorn, candy, and let them play on the bounce castle.

Even though they spent the money for the party, she said it was worth it to help people who were in need.

“Everyone was really grateful and said, ‘I’m so sorry you had to cancel the party,’ but people needed help and people need to be fed at the end of the day.”

“I just hope if we’re ever in that situation someone would give to those in need because we just have to help each other,” Cardenas-Haro said.

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