American Red Cross disaster workers ‘from all corners of the country’ assisting on Maui

American Red Cross disaster workers ‘from all corners of the country’ assisting on Maui
14 August 2023

By the Climate Centre

The American Red Cross yesterday said at least 220 trained disaster workers from Maui, other Hawaiian islands, and “all corners of the country” are helping now with more on their way.

“We send our deepest sympathies to the people of Hawaii whose close-knit way of life, rich with traditions and customs, has been forever altered by these tragic and deadly wildfires,” the National Society said in a statement on its website.

“Early reports indicate the Maui fires – the deadliest US wildfires in recent history – damaged or destroyed more than 2,200 structures in Lahaina town. Most of these were homes and thousands of residents are displaced.

“While conditions are improving, there is still a danger as firefighters fight new flare-ups in Lahaina and several other areas. First responders are still conducting search and rescue efforts, and officials report communities will not reopen until these efforts are completed.”

The US National Fire Protection Association Saturday put the wildfires on Maui as among the most lethal on record since 1871, and now in any case the most deadly for more than 100 years.

‘Drought conditions’

The Red Cross keeps pre-positioned disaster supplies on the Hawaiian islands, which allowed volunteers on Maui to offer immediate help to evacuees, including immediately opening shelters for those affected by this climate-driven crisis.

“Today our teams are working alongside partners to provide people with a safe place to stay, food to eat and emotional support,” the American Red Cross added. Since the fires began, the Red Cross and its partners have provided more than 3,300 overnight stays.

The National Society statement concludes: “The fires were fuelled by a combination of strong winds and drought conditions on the islands. Globally, the climate crisis is increasing the intensity of extreme heat, droughts and hurricanes.

“Wildfires – along with the ongoing heatwave – are clear examples of how the intensity of climate-rated disasters is worsening. As these extreme-weather disasters increase, more people need help from the Red Cross.”

As of Monday, the US Drought Monitor showed “abnormally dry” conditions across most of the Hawaiian archipelago, with “moderate” or “severe” drought on about half of the island of Maui.

US officials are also quoted as saying that lingering high winds from Hurricane Dora that passed Hawaii last week also helped fan the flames.

Chris Phillips escaped the wildfires that devastated the historic Hawaiian town city of Lahaina and made his way to a Red Cross shelter in Honolulu. He now has a safe place to sleep, eat, charge his phone, and receive support from Red Cross disaster workers. “We have this place that’s been keeping a roof over everybody’s head so far,” Chris said, along with food, showers and a change of clothes. (Photo: American Red Cross via social media)