In the sleepy Hawaiian town of Lahaina, unthinkable devastation has occurred. Wildfires ripped through the densely-populated area, leaving 114 dead and 1,050 missing and unaccounted for. It has been estimated that up to 3,357 students are relocated to different schools due to damage to the schools they were attending, and only 400 students from the area that burned have been reenrolled in other public schools.
The fires destroyed 2,200 homes, displaced nearly 5,000 people, and could still have more tragic outcomes as the death toll continues to rise. Counseling will be offered at the schools that are reopening outside of the burn zone, but the puzzles pieces of this tragedy are still being put together to identify those lost.
Hawaii Governor Josh Green addressed the uncertainty of the missing persons on Sunday after the fires with Face the Nation. “We do have extreme concerns that because of the temperature of the fire, the remains of those who have died, in some cases, may be impossible to recover meaningfully. So there are going to be people that are lost forever.”
It is being reported that possible 1 in 4 children will be missing.
“Do I wish those sirens went off? Of course I do.”pic.twitter.com/T5PXLSJ3lX
— Libby Emmons (@libbyemmons) August 20, 2023
Green elaborated on the recovery process, noting that it will take weeks for search and rescue teams to go through larger buildings, as well as peel back floors and structures. It’s not just the adults who have gone unaccounted for, but children too. Schools were closed the day of the fires, leaving many children at home or with family members, some of which were found dead in their car.
Further investigation is being conducted to find the cause of the fire, with power lines being suspected. Wind speeds of 45 to 67 miles per hour brought down power lines and ignited dry vegetation, sparking fires that could not be contained. Certain power companies are now the subject of a lawsuit for not turning off the power despite the risk of fires.
After ten days of devastating fire in Maui the mayor, Richard Bissen couldn’t give an answer how many kids are missing.
Honestly what is going on in Maui?
Why is there no answers or accountability? pic.twitter.com/R0xjxVukMc
— I Meme Therefore I Am 🇺🇸 (@ImMeme0) August 20, 2023
To make matters even worse it…
On the missing and the dead. Anecdotally everyone I have spoken to that was in Lahaina August 8th or has since done work in Lahaina has said the number of dead will be much higher. In the range of 500-1000. But… https://t.co/8AzDBRocQC
— Will Cain (@willcain) August 23, 2023
This is an unfathomable tragedy for both the people of Lauhina and the rest of the country. But for the grieving and traumatized community, help and support is available as they desperately try to put pieces of their lives and their loved ones back together.