HONOLULU (KHON2) — About 7,000 people who had jobs on Maui are now unemployed, according to the Hawaii Department of Business, Economic Development and Tourism.
Over 800 businesses were in the Lahaina disaster area and some are moving their work out of Maui — at least for now.
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Jessalyn Manina moved to Lahaina during the pandemic and opened up BeYOUtiful Soul Shop in April, 2022. It was a prime location — right on Front Street — until Tuesday, Aug. 8.
“It’s unbelievable that you can be living such a dream life in one instance and then the very next, it’s completely demolished,” Manina said.
Her home and business were completely destroyed. One of her specialties is permanent jewelry, where pieces are welded together rather than being secured with a clasp. Manina purchased a miniature school bus since she no longer has a storefront.
“And we are now going to take our business on tour and we are going to go jump ship for three months back to California so that we can raise money,” Manina said.
Her family in Maui will renovate the bus while Manina goes to Tahoe to raise money for the rebuild.
“And then in the meantime, the other part of my family will stay here in Maui with our school bus and completely get it renovated and everything ready for when we get back to hit the road here in Maui and hit all of the different towns and support our people and our mission together,” she said.
One business owner who plans to stay close to Maui is caricaturist Kiko Yamada. She had a stand on Front Street right next to the banyan tree.
“My favorite is the drawing part and the audience favorite is the actions, I can tell, but my favorite is the drawing,” Yamada said, “I’ll be like, ‘I’m so scared to turn this one around,’ and I’ll turn it around and they can just like laugh and it’s the best.”
Yamada is thankful that she has friends on Oahu.
“I thought, ‘Oh, I’m going to contact my friend John.’ He’s the owner at The Gallery Waikiki, it’s right next to the International Marketplace,” Yamada said, “yeah, he said, ‘Come on over fam, like we got you!'”
Yamada plans to move to Waikiki during the week of Monday, Aug. 11 and expects to be set up at The Gallery Waikiki by the week of Monday, Aug. 18.
Experts predict more Maui business owners will leave the Valley Isle — at least temporarily.
“I don’t think the out migration is going to be as bad as people expect, but it will, it will still be very real,” said Dr. Carl Bonham, UHERO executive director. “It’s very possible that thousands of local residents will leave and some people will return, some people will, so the net loss might not be as much as several thousand.”
KHON2 asked Manina and Yamada about their message to others who are in a similar situation.
“It’s all over the place,” Manina said, “but really, just to look within and know that you have everything that you need within and that you’re not alone.”
“I will be back,” Yamada said, “I’m hoping, like they said at the soonest, five years, at the longest, 10 years, I am 100% in love with Lahaina and Maui.”