From the minute you get off the plane and smell the air you are intoxicated by the island. There is something about Maui that reaches into your soul and holds you for the rest of your life. The sights, the smells, the people, and the laidback way of life keep you coming back for more. It is the most beautiful place on earth, in my opinion, and the only place that I hate to leave every time I go there.
When I heard the news yesterday morning that a brush fire had exploded into a raging inferno and wiped out 300+ buildings, most of Front Street in Lahaina, and killed at least 36 people, I was devastated. I love this place. I have never felt a connection to any other place I've ever been, including my hometown of Chicago, like I feel for Maui.
It is heartbreaking to see pictures of the fire destroying places that hold warm memories of good times and good friends. It is scary to read that people were literally jumping in the ocean to escape the fire ravaging their homes or businesses. This is never good news when people have the option of being killed by fire or sharks and they choose sharks.
Maui is a central location for my new book because it holds that much love for me. I wanted to share with you the reader what I love about the place and hope you get a small sense of what makes it so beautiful and inviting. I can't get over that it has been destroyed.
This is how I want to remember this beautiful place. Lahaina, Front Street, and magnificent views. I'm sure that the people there will rebuild the town and their homes. I'm sure it will once again be a wonderful place to escape to, but it likely won't be the same or have the same feel it used to have. You can't replace 300+ years of history with new buildings.
Yesterday was a bad day for the world because we lost a magical place to fire. I send my best wishes to the people of Maui to find the strength and use the spirit of the island to help rebuild. It just doesn't get much worse than this.
Here are some places you can go to help the people on Maui.
The Salvation Army is providing food and resources to those in need.
Run by volunteers, the Maui Mutual Aide Fund is looking for funds to assist those with physical disabilities, renters, and individuals without insurance.
The Hawaii Red Cross is providing assistance and shelter to the fire victims.
The Maui Humane Society is asking for emergency foster homes f or its animals to help make space for new displaced pets. Pet supplies like wet and dry food, litter and pop-up kennels are also in need.
The Maui Food Bank is accepting monetary donations here.
Maui United Fund has set up a fire relief fund that will go directly to support Maui fire victims.
Anything you can do to help will be appreciated.