A Maui Wildfires Emergency Response
On August 9, deadly wildfires, fueled by Hurricane Dora, swept across portions of Maui causing widespread devastation. With the death toll currently at more than 100 and continuing to climb, the Maui wildfires are the deadliest in the US in more than a century, surpassing California’s 2018 Camp Fire. While the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) said it was premature to assign even an approximate dollar amount to the damage done on Maui, the governor estimated that “the losses approach $6 billion.”
The hardest hit community, Lahaina, was home to 12,000 people and dozens of historic buildings dating back to the 1700s. The town is particularly important for Native Hawaiians as a cultural and political center, and it is also a significant tourist destination, hosting much of the economic engine of western Maui. Lahaina’s historic Front Street, home to bars, stores, restaurants, and the largest banyan tree in the U.S., was decimated by fire. The Lahaina Fire is estimated to have burned 2,170 acres and damaged or destroyed more than 2,200 structures. About 86% of the buildings that were exposed to the fire were residential.
An estimated 4,500 people have been displaced, with a total of 1,418 people at emergency evacuation shelters as of Friday, according to Maui County officials. The governor said Sunday that work is being ramped up to get displaced residents into temporary homes, with more than 500 hotel rooms already obtained with government subsidies.
Helping Maui and Lahaina:
Over a third of private giving occurs in the first four weeks of a sudden disaster or humanitarian crisis, and two-thirds within two months. This giving stops almost completely after five or six months. Given this, it is important for funders to consider when they want to deploy their funds.
There are three stages of disaster response where philanthropic dollars can make a difference:
- Immediate Relief: In the initial aftermath of a disaster, foundations, government agencies, nonprofit service organizations and volunteers rally to provide food, shelter, water, medical care, and clothing to survivors, and to account for the deceased.
- Medium-term Recovery: Press coverage and donations peak during the immediate relief stage. However, just when public attention begins to wane, critical recovery work begins. Philanthropic investments help provide continued health and social services, including provision of safe drinking water, temporary or transitional shelter, sanitation facilities, and other services for survivors and their dependents.
- Long-term Rebuilding: In many communities hit by disaster, it takes several years to rebuild physical infrastructure, restore the natural environment, and rehabilitate the lives of those who are among the hardest hit. In this stage, funders play a key role by making strategic investments that can address chronic social and environmental challenges in the impacted community.
It can be a challenge to identify organizations best equipped to provide high-quality support and services and meet the following criteria:
- Demonstrated emergency response experience
- Capacity and infrastructure to allow for a rapid and robust response
- Existing regional presence
- Commitment to employing and/or working with local people and organizations
- Collaborative relationships with government entities
For that reason, we’re providing recommendations that meet the aforementioned criteria and can provide immediate, medium and/or long-term support to communities impacted by the Maui wildfires
Founded in 2010, the Center for Disaster Philanthropy (CDP) is the only full-time national resource dedicated to helping donors maximize their impact by making more intentional disaster-related giving decisions in response to domestic and international events. CDP focuses on medium- to long-term
recovery, which means that while others move quickly to fund relief efforts; CDP’s grantmaking is comprehensive, thorough, strategic, and efficient. Long-term recovery requires a holistic approach to individuals and their communities, particularly among vulnerable populations.
CDP launched the Hawaii Wildfires Recovery Fund, which will support mid-to-long-term recovery in Maui and other islands affected. The focus with this fund will be to provide grants to local organizations supporting marginalized populations with less access to the resources needed for an equitable recovery.
The Council for Native Hawaiian Advancement (CNHA) is a member-based non-profit organization with a mission to enhance the cultural, economic, political, and community development of Native Hawaiians. As a national network of organizations and individuals working to advance Native Hawaiians and all
Hawaiʻi, CNHA is a strong voice on public policy. CNHA also operates a loan fund, delivers capacity building services, fosters leadership development, and has convened the Annual Native Hawaiian Convention for 20 consecutive years.
In response to the Maui wildfires, CNHA established the Hawaiian Way Fund. All donations up to $1.5M will be matched. As a trusted leader in the indigenous community, CNHA is well suited to address the immediate as well as medium and long-term needs of the Maui community.
The Maui Food Bank is Maui County’s primary safety net for hunger relief. The Food Bank provides safe and nutritious food to anyone in Maui County who is at risk of going hungry. Of those served, 40% are children and youth. Working with more than 100 distribution partners and programs, the Food Bank distributes safe and nutritious food to individuals, families, kids, the working poor, seniors on fixed incomes, the homeless, and anyone who is at risk of going hungry. This includes people in need living in the rural communities of Hana, Molokai, and Lanai.
With 30 years of experience providing nutritional support for those most in need on Maui, the Food Bank is well positioned to respond to this current crisis.
Want to know about other organizations?
Should you want additional recommendations, perhaps around a specific issue area, please contact us. We’d be pleased to help.