The Stories

Maui Planning Director Aoki to retire, focus on family after losing home in Lahaina fire

Mayor Richard Bissen today announced the retirement of Planning Director Kathleen Ross Aoki, as she wishes to focus on her family after losing her Lahaina home in the Aug. 8 fire. Her retirement is effective Dec. 31, 2023.

Lahaina’s Vision for the Future, Part 2: Navigating a sail plan, Finding comfort in the shade of Lele, Pushing the reset button

“I want to see that grow out of this situation we’re in today. Let us find the people who bind us together. Let us find the strength in our lāʻau (plants), in our community. Let us find the koʻi (adze) that define the future and shape our world as we’re going to see it; the kālaimoku (high official), the kālai waʻa (canoe carver)—all of those people. They’re in our community. I can stare into this audience and see all the individuals, and that’s what gives me comfort,” said Kaipo Kekona.

Hawaiʻi’s mayors discuss housing after fires, Bissen calls for ‘voluntary compliance’

Maui Mayor Richard Bissen acknowledged: “Housing was an issue on Maui and in West Maui before Aug. 8, and it became, obviously, a bigger issue after that.” “Our duty as government is to present the other options that people have. Let’s talk of creating a land trust,” said the mayor. That was one of the topics that was also explored at the Native Hawaiian Convention.

The Doobie Brothers Release New Song “Lahaina” Feat Mick Fleetwood to Raise Funds for Maui

Today, four-time GRAMMY Award Winners and Rock & Roll Hall of Famers, The Doobie Brothers, have released a new single “Lahaina” along with a music video to provide aid and support to Maui following the August 2023 wildfire disaster.

Lahaina’s Vision for the Future, Part 1: Memories of Lahaina

The wildfires and their destructive aftermath created a prominent backdrop in the discussions about Lahaina. Three Lahaina residents reflected on nostalgic moments as they shared their earliest memories of Lahaina. This is Part 1 in a 3 part series.

Maui accepts donated fire engine to help fill a gap in equipment after the August wildfires

“Although we are fortunate to have several relief fleet… we’re still in our drought season. We still are averaging about 60 wildfires a month, and so this truck will be going to work pretty quickly here… It will not lay unused,” said Maui Fire Chief Brad Ventura.

Maui restaurant destroyed in Lahaina wildfire to reopen at new location in Kīhei

Cool Cat Café at the Wharf Cinema Center Shops in West Maui was destroyed by the August wildfire in Lahaina. Rising from the aftermath, the restaurant is poised to open for lunch and dinner at the Kukui Mall in Kīhei in early 2024.

10th Made in Maui County Festival boosts small businesses, local economy following fires

With the Lahaina fire — that has led to the closure of about 600 businesses, according to the Hawai’i Small Business Development Center, and forced many others to change course — the Hawaiian Airlines Made in Maui County Festival has become a lifeline for some businesses and a symbol of economic recovery for Maui.

Maui police release body worn camera footage from Aug. 8 wildfires

Disclaimer: GRAPHIC CONTENT (Police body camera footage contains profanity). “There’s been multiple narratives about what took place on the day of those fires. This body worn camera footage makes it very clear and convincing that the Maui Police Department—the men and women of MPD—went above and beyond, and their actions reflect the finest tradition of this noble profession,” said Chief Pelletier.

West Maui prepares for return of tourism: Merriman’s serves thousands of meals since August fires

As West Maui prepares for the return of tourism on Oct. 8, restaurants and businesses are adjusting to the ongoing need of residents while also gauging services for visitors. Since Aug. 10, Chef Peter Merriman and his team have fed thousands of displaced residents impacted by the fires, giving free meals to 1,000 people daily and serving approx. 45,000 meals in the first seven weeks of response. 

Support requested for Healthcare Heroes devastated by Maui wildfires

Sarah has been in healthcare for over 11 years and was Maui Memorial Medical Center’s first-ever DAISY Award honoree, an international award recognizing extraordinary nurses. She lost her home and all of her belongings in the Lahaina fire.

Imua Physical Therapy in Lahaina has reopened, staff member remains in critical condition with burn wounds

“Although our clinic was spared from the fire, that wasn’t the case for three of our staff members who have been displaced. The most difficult news is that our Patient Service Coordinator Laurie Allen remains in critical condition in Straub Hospital with the burn wounds she sustained in her evacuation from her home,” said Director of Clinics Tiffany Prangnell. 

#Lahainastrong signs pops up in Kahului

The sign was created as a paid partnership between the Queen Kaʻahumanu Center and Manafacture, owners of the Na Koa Brand which also has a store at the mall. The business designed and created the sign, and Artisan Events Maui installed the work. 

500 Lahainaluna students report for first day of in-person learning at Kūlanihākoʻi High

An estimated 500 Lahainaluna High School students reported Thursday to their temporary school site at Kūlanihākoʻi High for their first day of in-person instruction. Lahainaluna students were welcomed by Kūlanihākoʻi students and staff cheering and waving signs at the drop-off area on campus.

Out of the 99 moorings at Lahaina Harbor, a row of 13 boats appears largely unscathed

“Most of the 13 boats, as well as the pier they’re tied to, appear to be largely untouched by the flames of Aug. 8,” according to the state Department of Land and Natural Resources. “One boat, the Reel Luckey, the last name of its owners, is a metaphor for the line of white vessels, still afloat in stark contrast to the blackened landscape, buildings, and harbor structures.”

Photos: Paddle Outs for Lahaina draw hundreds in unity one month after Maui wildfires

Hundreds gathered in waters off of Ukumehame on Friday to reflect and unite during a Paddle Out for Lahaina event, held one month after wildfires swept through Maui.

More than 100 pets from Lahaina burn zone reunited with owners; Maui Humane Society executive writes open letter

The Maui Humane Society was granted restricted access on Aug. 26, 18 days after the destructive wildfire swept through Lahaina. Maui Humane Society CEO, Lisa Labrecque, DVM, shared the challenges, obstacles, and ongoing efforts to provide help in the wake of Maui’s wildfire disaster. Her open letter to the Maui community is posted here.

Schatz outlines impact of devastating Maui fires, calls for continued federal support

US Senator Brian Schatz (D-Hawai‘i) delivered remarks on the Senate floor discussing the impact of the deadly fires on Maui last month and underscoring the need for continued federal support in the months ahead.

Maui Hope and Hawaiʻi Autism Foundation help Lahaina family impacted by fire

Two nonprofits, Maui Hope and the Hawaiʻi Autism Foundation, presented a $1,900 check to Lahaina resident Jhuendel Sabalo and her 8 year-old daughter who has autism. The funds were raised through a Gofundme campaign, and will help the family to purchase a car after they lost their home, vehicle and all their belongings in the Aug. 8 Lahaina fire tragedy. 

Lahaina’s famed banyan tree showing signs of life three weeks after destructive wildfire

Thousands of leaves on the 150-year-old Lahaina banyan tree are scorched but its multiple trunks show little sign of being singed during the Aug. 8 firestorm that devastated this historic, coastal West Maui community. 
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