Maui wildfire recovery updates for Aug. 16: loss of life grows; displaced survivors navigate change

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Wildfire updates for Aug. 16 are posted: HERE.

Video – Interview with Todd Magliocca with the City of Tacoma, WA Fire Department. Video: DLNR Hawaiʻi (8.15.23) Edit by Wendy Osher

Maui Wildfire Disaster Daily Recap
Update: 9:25 p.m.: 11:55 a.m., 9 a.m., 7:54 a.m., 6:06 a.m., 5:30 a.m., 1:20 a.m., Aug. 16, 2023

Recovery efforts continue on Maui where wildfires decimated the Historic Lahaina Town in West Maui, leaving a path of destruction spanning nearly 3.5 square miles. The fires were driven by hurricane force winds with 80 mph gusts as system Dora passed well south of the Hawaiian Islands on Tuesday, Aug. 8. The largest fires in Kula and Lahaina are still active burn areas where firefighting efforts continue. The wildfire is described as the nation’s deadliest in a 100 years.


  • Olinda fire: Now 85% contained with an estimated 1,081 acres burned. There are no active threats at this time (as of 9 p.m. on 8.16.23). 
  • Kula fire: Now 80% contained with 202 acres burned. There are no active threats at this time.
  • Lahaina fire: 89% contained and 2,170 acres burned. Multiple fire crews are assigned to monitor and address any flareups. There are no active threats at this time (as of 9 p.m. on 8.16.23). 

The National Guard has two military helicopters on standby for any immediate firefighting needs.

*County fire investigators have concluded that the Kula and Olinda fires have distinct origins. Going forward, data for these fires will be reported separately. Hot spots in gulches, forests and other hard to reach places, along with land divisions and fences, make establishment of complete control lines difficult in the Upcountry fires. As mapping is refined in coming days, estimated fire acreage may be adjusted. Chinook helicopters dropped water on the perimeter of the active fires as preventative measures. 



The number of confirmed fatalities is 111, the Maui Police Department reported on Wednesday night. The names of three victims of the Maui Wildfire Disaster were released after their families were notified: Melva Benjamin, 71, of Lahaina; Virginia Dofa, 90, of Lahaina; and Alfredo Galinato, 79, of Lahaina. 

Two other individuals were identified on Tuesday as Robert Dyckman, 74, of Lahaina and Buddy Jantoc, 79, of Lahaina.

As of Wednesday morning, police reported that 35 autopsies had been completed and seven were identified, five by fingerprints and two by DNA. The names of two were released Tuesday, 8/15 after their families were notified. Sixteen DNA profiles have been obtained from human remains, and 52 samples have been collected from family members.

To provide DNA samples to assist in identification, family members can go to the Family Assistance Center, which is open daily from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. at the Kahului Community Center, 275 Uhu St. The FBI is assisting with obtaining DNA samples from out-of-state family members.


FEMA opens Disaster Recovery Center on Maui

Maui residents affected by the recent wildfires can apply for federal disaster assistance at a joint Disaster Recovery Center that opened Aug. 16 and will continue daily from 8 a.m. to 7 p.m. at the University of Hawaiʻi Maui College, 310 W. Kaʻahumanu Ave., Kahului. Speak to FEMA specialists, get help registering for disaster assistance, connect with voluntary organizations and have access to federal and state resources.


According to the National Weather Service, no impacts are expected from Tropical Storm Greg, which is passing south of the state. Tropical Storm Fernanda is forecast to weaken and is shifting farther south. The system is expected to bring breezy tradewinds today, Aug. 16, and Thursday, Aug. 17. The storm may may bring increased rain, starting Monday, Aug. 21, and Tuesday, Aug. 22. 



Most public schools across the island welcome students back on Wednesday, Aug. 16.  The exception is for:

  • West Maui campuses which remain closed for students to allow for damage assessment. While all three campuses (Lahainaluna High, Lahaina Intermediate and Princess Nāhiʻenaʻena Elementary) sustained wind damage, the overall structure of campus buildings and classrooms are in good condition, according to department administrators. Crews are currently at the campus sites, cleaning debris and testing both air and water quality in the coming days. Kamehameha III Elementary was destroyed in the wildfires.  
  • King Kekaulike High School facilities are still being assessed and will remain closed to both students and staff until the campus can be fully evaluated.


Private pumping trucks for wastewater systems in West Maui will be allowed to dispose of wastewater at Sewer Pump Station #1 on Halawai Street next to the Lahaina Wastewater Treatment Facility. For questions, call the Department of Environmental Management, Wastewater Reclamation Division at 808-270-7417.


Donations of non-perishable food, bottled water and hygiene products are being accepted from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. near a vacant unit in Queen Ka’ahumanu Center at the Kane Street entrance. The new site is a partnership among the county, the state via Lt. Gov. Sylvia Luke and Mahi Pono. Mahi Pono will provide staff for the facility and work under leadership of Salvation Army and Feed My Sheep to coordinate food and supplies distribution. The collection site at War Memorial Complex field off Kanaloa Avenue was closed Monday, Aug. 14, with donations directed to the new site.


An online, centralized hub called Maui Nui Strong, designed to respond to the impacts of the Lahaina and Kula wildfire disaster was launched at The County of Maui site offers information on how to donate, volunteer, offer services and look for support. It is administered through the Office of Economic Development and will be utilized by multiple county departments, nonprofits and grassroot efforts to connect people to resources and services.


Gov. Josh Green announced the opening of the road to Lahaina during specified hours.

  • Starting Wednesday, Aug. 16, the road will be open to all motorists daily from 6 a.m. to 10 p.m.
  • Late-night access from 10 p.m. to 6 a.m. is limited to West Maui residents, first responders and West Maui employees.

*The Maui Police Department advises the public that officers will cite and tow vehicles parked at the Lahaina Bypass, where there are no-parking signs.


Hawaiian Electric Co. reported on Monday, that power was restored to all but 2,000 of the 12,400 customers who lost power in West Maui. The total doesnʻt include about 2,000 homes and businesses that were destroyed in the fire. Power was restored to the Lahaina Civic Center and nearby areas. HECO has 400 employees from across the state working on power restoration and shipped 26 specialized vehicles and equipment to Maui from Oʻahu.

In Upcountry, crews continue to respond to pocket outages for an estimated 60 customers. There are more than 400 Hawaiian Electric employees and contractors from Maui, Oʻahu, Hawaiʻi Island, Molokaʻi and Lānaʻi who are working to safely bring power back to our Maui communities. This includes construction crews and tree trimmers as well as line crews and other support teams.

All six emergency shelters now have internet connection.

Rotary on the Westside announced they have acquired two more StarLinks. The units are active now at Kahekili Beach and Honokōwai Beach Park.

Nāpili Plaza is now open 24/7 and has power restored.

GAS: With power being restored in some areas of West Maui, there are now supplies available at four stations: ʻOhana Fuels/Minit Stop on Keawe Street in Lahaina, Shell on Kapunakea Street in Lahaina, Texaco Gas Station in Honokowai and Kahana Gateway Shell are open for gasoline.


Water testing was performed Monday for Lahaina and Upper Kula areas that were impacted by wildfires. The test samples went to Oʻahu and are being analyzed by the state Department of Health. Even if the initial testing is clear, it will take time and additional tests to confirm that the water is safe to drink.

For residents in Lahaina and Upper Kula areas, maps of affected areas in Upcountry and in Lahaina were recently released on the county Department of Water Supply website, The advisory remains in effect for certain areas until further notice and states that residents should not drink and/or boil water. Bottled water should be used for all drinking, brushing teeth, ice making and food preparation until further notice. Residents are unable to treat the water in any way to make it safe. Drinking water sites are set up in many areas of Lahaina and Kula.

Although the county has an unsafe water advisory in place, Hawaiʻi Water Service does not have one in place for its customers in Kāʻanapali or Kapalua. The company advises customers of Hawaiʻi Water Service in those particular areas, that their water is safe to use and drink.

EMERGENCY SHELTERS (Due to privacy, no media allowed)

  • Hannibal Tavares Community Center, Pukalani
  • War Memorial Gymnasium, Wailuku (Internet)
  • The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, Kahului
  • Kings Cathedral Church, Kahului
  • Grace Bible Church, Kahului
  • South Maui Community Park Gymnasium, Kīhei 

Overnight Tuesday, Aug. 15, an estimated 355 individuals were housed in shelters. No one was housed at the Grace Bible Church in Kahului.


Lahaina Gateway Center from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. for County of Maui-facilitated food, water and other needs and supplies.

Nāpili Plaza is open for food and supplies distribution from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. through Friday, Aug. 18, Maui Health clinicians and physicians will provide first-aid, wound care, health and wellness checks and pharmacy services, including baby formula for all community members in need. Kīhei Vet Clinic is also on-site to offer pet supply distribution and animal medical services.

Other volunteer run sites were available at the following locations at last report:

  • Princess Nāhiʻenaʻena Elementary
  • Nāpili Park
  • Pōhaku Park, nicknamed “S-Turns”
  • Honokōwai Beach Park
  • Kahana Boat Ramp
  • Hawaiian Homes


Maui Health: From 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. from Tuesday, 8/15 to Friday, 8/18, Maui Health clinicians and physicians will provide first-aid, wound care, health and wellness checks and pharmacy services, including baby formula for all community members in need, regardless of health insurance, at Lahaina Gateway and Nāpili Plaza. For details, visit

Kaiser: Since Monday,8/14, Kaiser Permanente has been providing medical services to KP members and non-members at  locations in Lahaina. Pharmacy courier services will be available at all three sites. These locations are open 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., seven days a week.

  • Kaiser Permanente’s Mobile Health Vehicle at Lahaina Gateway: Providing first aid, pediatric services. OB/GYN services are offered at this site every Friday beginning Aug. 18.
  • Kaiser Permanente First Aid Station at the Hyatt Regency Lahaina, Lahaina Ballroom
  • Kaiser Permanente First Aid Station at Nāpili Market: Providing first aid services.

Minit Medical has been open since Aug. 14 at the Lahaina Gateway from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m., seven days a week, providing medical services to all community members in need regardless of health insurance. Contact 808-667-6161 for an appointment or visit


Text, not talk, is best for locations that have connectivity. Maui County updates are repeated on radio stations at 9 a.m., noon and 3 p.m. The Civil Air Patrol Hawaiʻi Wing broadcast by loudspeaker while flying between Lahaina and Kapalua to announce important public messages on Sunday, Aug. 13, Monday, Aug. 14, Tuesday, Aug. 15, and Wednesday, Aug. 16.


The state Department of Health is urging caution for residents and business owners who are allowed to return to their properties in the Lahaina area. Dangers include ash that may contain toxic and cancer-causing chemicals including asbestos, arsenic and lead and debris including broken glass, exposed electrical wires, nails, wood, plastics and other objects. Unstable buildings and structures may contain hazardous materials and could collapse and cause injury. For more information about recommendations for personal protective equipment including masks and associated hazards, go to


Daily, county shuttle service from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. for Central Maui shelters to go to Central Maui shopping and medical locations launched Aug. 13. Riders are required to call Roberts Hawaiʻi for same-day reservations at 808-871-4838. Mobility devices accommodated. Luggage and bags will be limited to what can be carried.

Maui Economic Opportunity is offering free rides for medical appointments for people impacted by the fires who are sheltering at the South Maui Community Park Gymnasium and Mayor Hannibal Tavares Community Center in Pukalani. The service by reservation only began on Aug. 15, and operates daily from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Reservations can be made from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. weekdays at 808-877-7651. 

For all other transportation needs, riders may use The Maui Bus.

FAMILY ASSISTANCE CENTER (Due to privacy, no media allowed on premises)

The Family Assistance Center for those seeking information on loved ones and for those who are unaccounted for is now open daily from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. at the Kahului Community Center, 275 Uhu Street. Maui Emergency Management Agency and FAC staff will work with families and individuals to gather detailed information and administer DNA swabs. 


The County of Maui Division of Motor Vehicles and Licensing’s Lahaina Satellite Office will be available daily from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. beginning Aug. 16 at Lahaina Gateway to assist West Maui residents whose Hawaiʻi driver’s licenses or Hawaiʻi State Identification cards have been lost or destroyed by wildfires. For more information, call 808-270-7363.

Gov. Green and Mayor Bissen discuss on disaster recovery and economic impacts
Update: 9:09 p.m., Aug. 16, 2023

To view the press conference in its entirety, visit our stream on the Maui Now Facebook page. PC: Wendy Osher / Maui Now (8.16.23)

Governor Josh Green, M.D., Maui County Mayor Richard Bissen and other officials addressed the public to provide important updates on the Maui wildfires, and responded to significant community concerns regarding the disaster recovery process.

“Like we saw in the pandemic, decisions we made can affect everyone across the islands. So what we’re saying now is travel should not be to West Maui. But the other parts of Maui are safe,” said Gov. Green. “And the rest of the state, of course, is also safe.”

“I’ll be making a much broader announcement and have a broader discussion about this on Friday in a statewide address. But we want people to travel to the state to the extent that they’re not impacting the hard work that these extraordinary people are doing (supporting disaster recovery),” the Gov. said.

“Also, I can tell you economic potential exists in great measure going forward in this district, in this region … I’m anticipating $500 to $600 million of added investment in some of the early cleanup and then there will be billions of dollars in reconstruction. And we also intend to do a public work program to hire local people, so that work comes and stays with our local people. A lot of money is going to be invested in Maui in a kind of an extraordinary way to relief efforts and that’s going to help us survive,” said Gov. Green.

In the short-term, Maui Mayor Richard Bissen said the newly-formed housing program to get displaced residents into hotel rooms and homes will also help.

“Because of governor’s work, and FEMA and Red Cross and everyone else here, those hotel rooms that normally would have been filled by tourists, is now filled by not only our local community, but those who have come here to help us,” said Bissen. “That will help with the economy, but of course people can also apply for Small Business Loans from the SBA. The governor is going to be having more folks come here to help us rebuild, and that’s going to require a lot of work with construction companies, contractors, and folks like us.”

Wednesday’s news conference was livestreamed on Maui Now’s Facebook page

Police identify three more victims of Maui wildfire disaster
Update: 6:01 p.m., Aug. 16, 2023

“It is with a heavy heart that the County of Maui and the Maui Police Department confirms the following identities of the victims involved in the West Maui Wildfire incident. Our hearts go out to the families, friends, and community affected by this devastating event,” police said.

As of today, Aug. 16, 2023, police confirm the following individuals have been identified and next of kin notified:

  • Melva Benjamin, 71, of Lahaina
  • Virginia Dofa, 90, of Lahaina
  • Alfredo Galinato, 79, of Lahaina

On Day 8 of the recovery effort, Governor Josh green said, “Everyday we’re a little more heartbroken because we have to report more of our loved ones are deceased.”

“MPD and assisting partners have been working tirelessly to ensure that proper protocols are followed while notifying the families of the victims involved. Our priority is to handle this situation with the utmost sensitivity and respect for those who are grieving,” police said.

“We understand that this is an incredibly difficult time for the families, and we ask that the media and the public respect the privacy of the grieving families.  We will continue to work closely with the families to ensure that they are updated and supported throughout this process,” according to a department news release update.

“We extend our gratitude to the community for their support and understanding during this challenging time,” police said.

At the time of this release, the police have confirmed the loss of 111 souls. To date, five individuals have been identified and their family notified. Four other individuals have been identified, but their family have not been located or notified.

Police released the names of two other victims on Tuesday:

  • Robert Dyckman, 74, of Lahaina
  • Buddy Jantoc, 79, of Lahaina

Crews focus on infrastructure repair to support restoration in West Maui
Update: 1:23 p.m., Aug. 16, 2023

Hawaiian Electric crews in West Maui. PC: Hawaiʻi DLNR (8.16.23)

Hawaiian Electric crews working to restore power to customers have completed repair of damaged transmission lines in the Upcountry area. Work continues on infrastructure to support restoration in the West Maui area, where facilities that provide essential needs such as groceries and supplies are located. 

As of this morning, approximately 2,000 customers in West Maui remain without electricity, and Hawaiian Electric will be reaching out to those who may experience an extended outage. Crews are working to install a second mobile substation to support restoration for the Launiuopoko to Olowalu areas. Once online, the mobile substation is expected to restore power to homes, schools and county facilities in those areas. This complex process takes time to safely connect customers. Substations step down power from high-voltage transmission lines to lower-voltage distribution lines that serve neighborhoods. 

In Upcountry, crews continue to respond to pocket outages for an estimated 60 customers.

Power has been restored to more than 80% of customers who have been without electricity since last Tuesday.

More than 100 utility poles will be needed to meet restoration priorities, and a shipment is expected to arrive from Oʻahu in the coming days. Fencing and other equipment is also being shipped from Oʻahu to support set up and stabilization of the second mobile substation.

There are more than 400 Hawaiian Electric employees and contractors from Maui, Oʻahu, Hawaiʻi Island, Molokaʻi and Lānaʻi working to safely bring power back to our Maui communities. This includes construction crews and tree trimmers as well as line crews and other support teams.

Updates are also available at

Installation of dust screens begins around Lahaina Town
Update, 12:47 p.m., Aug. 16, 2023

PC: DLNR Hawaiʻi

Following the opening of the Lahaina Bypass on Aug. 15, 2023, the Hawaiʻi Department of Transportation began installing dust screens around Lahaina Town. The dust screens will reduce the spread of potentially hazardous materials across the roadways. This measure is being taken to protect highway users along Honoapiʻilani Highway (Route 30) and the Lahaina Bypass (Route 3000).

Federal, state, Maui County, and volunteer agencies continue recovery actions in Lahaina. The dust screens will not interfere with those efforts, according to transportation officials.

Installation began with the digging of fence posts on August 16. The full installation of dust screens is anticipated to be complete within a month. The dust screens will be maintained by HDOT crews and will remain until further notice.

As stressed by Gov. Green in his announcement of the opening of Lahaina Bypass yesterday, the public is urged to access West Maui only if necessary.

JUST FYI, PRECAUTIONARY WATER DROPS IN LAUNIUPOKO; There are no flare ups at the location at this time
Update: 11:44 a.m., Aug. 16, 2023

Weʻve been getting some imagery from out on the west side of military helicopters dropping water the slopes below Launiupoko. County officials say there is no flare-up at this time. They are taking action now to further dampen the ground and perimeter as a preventative measure while they have use of the assets.

Regency Theatres in Lahaina lost to fire; partners to raise funds for Maui Food Bank
Update: 9:04 a.m., Aug. 16, 2023

With the devastation caused by the recent Maui fires, Regency Theatres who lost its movie theater on Front Street in Lahaina, is hosting a fundraiser for the Maui Food Bank.  This weekend, Friday through Sunday, Aug. 18-20, 2023, 20% of all revenue including Concession and Box Office Ticket sales (at select Regency Theatre locations) will be donated to the Maui Food Bank to assist with disaster relief.  

Maui Food Bank ( has been providing hunger relief on Maui since 1994 and has been providing disaster relief to those displaced and impacted by the recent fires. 

Regency Theatre Locations participating will be Agoura Hills, Calabasas, City of Commerce, Moreno Valley, Westminster, Santa Ana, Rancho Niguel, San Juan Capistrano and Kīhei, HI.

To donate directly to the Maui Food Bank, please visit Regency Theatres virtual fundraising drive;

Regency Theatres was founded in 1996, family owned, Regency Theatres operates 23 movie theater locations in Southern California, Arizona and Hawaiʻi.

Mālama I Ke Ola Health Center disaster relief response
Update: 8:52 a.m, Aug. 16, 2023

The Mālama I Ke Ola Health Center in Maui is one of 12 health centers in Hawaiʻi that is eligible for more COVID-19 vaccines.

Mālama I Ke Ola Health Center, in partnership with the Maui District Health Office, activated early on Wednesday, Aug. 9 2023, to set up the first coordinated medical stations at the War Memorial and Maui High School shelters.

As a federally qualified health center (FQHC) operating under the federal Bureau of Primary Healthcare, Mālama I Ke Ola Health Center has served Maui County by providing primary medical, dental and behavioral health access for 30 years.

From Wednesday Aug. 9, through Friday Aug. 11, the health center immediately partnered with Mauliola Pharmacy to help people needing care related to fire-related injuries, assist with refills for chronic medications lost in the fire and for other urgent care conditions.

“As more partners arrived to bolster efforts, Mālama I Ke Ola Health Center especially appreciates the support and efforts of Minit Medical and our Kaiser partners, who ably continue to support the War Memorial Shelter site for ongoing medical care,” according to CEO of Mālama I Ke Ola Health Center, Dr. John Vaz , MD.

According to the organization, Mālama I Ke Ola Health Center will focus on supporting access to Lahaina and the community in West Maui. In partnership with the Hui No Ke Ola Pono, Mauliola Pharmacy, Maui Medical Group and the Maui District Health Office, Mālama I Ke Ola Health Center will provide outpatient access from the Lahaina Comprehensive Health Center.

“We have also received an immense outpouring of support from our sister FQHCs across the state of Hawaiʻi in terms of staffing support for the Lahaina Comprehensive Health Center,” the organization reports.

In moving forward with a coordinated healthcare response to support the community through this tragedy, Mālama I Ke Ola Health Center reports it will continue to work with the State Department of Health, Maui District Health Office, Hui No Ke Ola Pono, Maui Health Systems, Kaiser Permanente, Maui Medical Group, Maui VA clinic, Kīhei-Wailea Medical Center, Hawaiʻi Independent Physicians Alliance, Hospice Maui, Hale Makua and Mauliola Pharmacy.

Gov. Green extends invitation for President Biden and the First Lady to visit Maui
Update: 7:54 a.m., Aug. 16, 2023

Background image credit DLNR Hawaiʻi. President photo courtesy of the White House. (8.15.23)

President Joe Biden and First Lady Jill Biden will visit Hawai‘i on Monday, Aug. 21, to observe the impact of the Maui fires and join the state in mourning the devastating loss of life and land that has occurred across the island, as well as to discuss next steps in the recovery efforts. While on the ground, the President, First Lady, and Governor Josh Green, M.D., will meet with first responders, survivors, and federal, state and local officials.

Gov. Green extended an invitation to the President and First Lady after being advised that the search and recovery efforts will have reached a point that a visit can be done safely and in a way that will support the recovery efforts.

“The suffering experienced as a result of the fires on Maui is a tragic blow to our state and the people of Hawaiʻi,” said Governor Green. “However, we have been uplifted by the outpouring of support we have received from across our communities, across the nation, and throughout the world.”

“We are especially grateful to President Biden for his strong support and partnership. From the first hours of the tragedy, he has enabled us to respond with the full force of the resources we need. We’ve been in constant contact with the President and his team. Just six hours after submitting our official request, President Biden signed our major disaster declaration, allowing us to expeditiously mobilize with the full support of the federal government to aid our community. To date, we have received massive help from the FEMA, the US Small Business Administration,  and virtually every other key federal partner.

Governor Green shared that “in consultation with our experts on the ground who are managing search and recovery operations, we have humbly asked the President to visit Hawai‘i on Monday, Aug. 21. Relief professionals have indicated that this is a point when a majority of our search and recovery efforts should be nearly complete, and a time when extra presence will not hamper disaster management efforts.”

“We are thankful for the outpouring of support and aloha that Maui has received — and we are united as a nation in providing every support and resource we have, to the victims of the Lāhainā fires,” said Gov. Green.

Eye on future weather systems:
Update: 7:24 a.m., Aug. 16, 2023

Three storms are moving through the Pacific Ocean on Aug. 26, 2023. (Map: Zoom Earth)

There are three systems that are being tracked in the Eastern and Central Pacific.  

GREG: The closest one, Tropical Storm Greg is forecast to pass far south of Hawaii Thursday through Friday with no direct impacts to the islands.  That according to a forecast discussion compiled by the Central Pacific Hurricane Center. Greg was located 605 miles SSE of Hilo, and is moving to the W at 14 mph, with maximum sustained winds of 50 mph.  

FERNANDA: Next up is Fernanda, which is in the Eastern North Pacific. Fernanda has weakened into a Tropical Storm and is likely to become a post-tropical remnant low within a couple of days.  Present movement is W at 15 mph.  Sustained winds are 65 mph. A forecast discussion notes that Fernanda should drop below tropical storm strength tomorrow and weaken to dissipation in 96 hours if not sooner.

HILLARY: The newest system to form is Hillary, located 470 miles off Mexico.  Hillary is a tropical storm, but rapid strengthening is forecast for the next few days, with the system expected to become a hurricane on Thursday.

Upcountry Work Day
Update: 6:40 a.m., Aug. 16

A grassroots volunteer effort is taking place upcountry this morning where community efforts are being made to recover from an ongoing wildfire in Kula.  Volunteers are meeting at 10 a.m. today (Aug. 16) at the Kula Lodge Upper Parking Lot.  For those that lack equipment, organizers are asking participants to use closed-toe shoes and a good attitude. The Upcountry Kula fire is now 75% contained with 678 acres burned. Hot spots continue.

President Biden, First Lady coming to Maui on Aug. 21 to meet survivors, first responders, officials of deadly wildfires
Update: 4:33 a.m., Aug. 16, 2023

President Biden participates in a phone call aboard Air Force One on Aug. 15, 2023. Photo courtesy of the White House.

President Joe Biden and First Lady Jill Biden will travel to Maui on Monday to meet with survivors, first responders, and federal, state, and local officials, in the wake of the deadly wildfires.

While on Maui, the Bidens will be welcomed by state and local leaders to see firsthand the impacts of the wildfires and the devastating loss of life and land that has occurred on the island, as well as discuss the next steps in the recovery effort.

The President continues to marshal a whole-of-government response to the deadly Maui fires, and he has committed to delivering everything that the people of Hawaiʻi need from the federal government as they recover from this disaster, a White House news release said.

Over the past week, President Biden has stayed closely in touch with FEMA Administrator Deanne Criswell, Hawaiʻi senators Mazie Hirono and Brian Schatz, and Hawaiʻi Gov. Josh Green, who advised that the search and recovery efforts are expected to be at a stage early next week to allow for a presidential visit.

HIDOE leadership visit Lahaina schools, plans for students and staff impacted by wildfires underway
Update: 12:21 a.m. Aug. 16, 2023

Princess Nāhiʻenaʻena Elementary School. PC: Hawaiʻi Department of Education (8.15.23)

Superintendent Keith Hayashi visited the three Lahaina campuses on Tuesday along with key legislators and Hawaiʻi State Department of Education leadership.

While all three campuses (Lahainaluna High, Lahaina Intermediate and Princess Nāhiʻenaʻena Elementary) sustained wind damage, the overall structure of campus buildings and classrooms are in good condition, according to department administrators.

Lahaina school administration teams are eager to resume teaching and learning for those who are ready and able to access it, and the Department is committed to ensuring that this is done as quickly and safely as possible.

Crews are currently at the campus sites, cleaning debris and testing both air and water quality in the coming days. Reopening dates will be determined once campuses are confirmed as safe for students and staff.

“We are planning with our partners at the Department of Health, FEMA, Governor’s office and the County to bring our students and staff back to school,” said Superintendent Hayashi. “We know the recovery effort is still in the early stages and we continue to grieve the many lives lost. We are doing everything we can to support all of our impacted staff, students and families.”

Joining Superintendent Hayashi on Maui were state Senate Vice President and Education Chairwoman Michelle Kidani, state House Education Chairman Justin Woodson, state House Finance Chairman Kyle Yamashita and Board of Education Maui member Kahele Dukelow.

The Department is still exploring options for students who attended Kamehameha III Elementary, including welcoming students to Princess Nāhiʻenaʻena Elementary as well as the potential for a temporary satellite site in West Maui.

In the meantime, students who are able to are encouraged to enroll at other public schools that are near their current location so that they have access to in-person services like meals, socialization and counseling. HIDOE liaisons are visiting shelters to share information and resources with displaced students and families.

Schools in Central, South and Upcountry Maui and a few off-island schools have begun enrolling displaced students, signing up approximately 200 West Maui students as of today. Nearly 100 applications for the State Distance Learning Program were also received on Monday.

As school communities continue to navigate this difficult situation, the Department is also offering students, families and staff with mental health support — both in-person and telehealth counseling. Information on this, as well as other information and resources to assist those impacted by the wildfires, can be accessed at

How you can help

In response to the outpouring of generosity toward the recovery of West Maui school communities, the Department is partnering with the Public Schools of Hawai‘i Foundation to support impacted school communities. The most immediate need and request from Maui schools is for monetary donations that can provide direct support for response efforts. Learn more at


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