THE death toll from the wildfires in Hawaii now stands at 99, making it the deadliest US wildfire in more than a century, but humanity is burning brightly on the island too.
Nearly the entire town of Lahaina in Maui was destroyed in the fire, and Fermanagh native Claire Mullally lives in nearby Kihei with her two daughters Mia, 11, and Lily, 9.
She and her family have had a terrifying time, but kindness and compassion have been in abundance as well.
“It sounds clichéd but there is strong grassroots support for everyone in Lahaina. Everybody is pulling together and not waiting on the government to take action,” Claire explained.
“Donation drives are going on constantly. We have a boat ramp near us and people were loading medical and food supplies onto boats as all the roads were closed. These were taken to Lahaina and distributed to people on the beach.
“If there is a will there is a way. They are going to get these supplies in no matter what.”
Not to be outdone, Claire’s daughters have rolled up their sleeves and joined the relief effort.
“My youngest daughter Lily went around the fruit trees here and collected lime, lilikoi [passion fruit] and bananas. She sold them to our neighbours and raised US$130,” Claire said.
“My older daughter Mia went around with a friend and collected bags of blankets and towels. People are doing everything they can to help.
“When you see the kids doing it as well, it’s so inspiring.
“We’re living in a place where natural disasters take place. The best way to get through it is to help out, otherwise, you can get into a downward spiral of ‘what next?’. Life still must go on.”
Recovery crews combing through charred homes and vehicles in Hawaii are likely to find 10 to 20 more victims per day, the Governor of Hawaii, Josh Green, has warned.
He told CBS News it could take up to 10 days to learn the full death toll. Meanwhile, the fight to support the needy goes on.
“People are resilient. They are working out what they can do to help,” Claire said. “The day after the fire I’d a friend who was on a dirt bike bringing water and supplies to those who needed it.
“We want to help out in any way we can. Our hearts are with those who are suffering.
“If you can’t afford to donate anything, prayers are so powerful and valuable right now. People here would be deeply appreciative of that alone.”
To donate to the disaster fund go to: https://www.mauinuistrong.info/.
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