Much more than the “popular tourist town” described in national and international news coverage of Hawai‘i’s devastating August 8 wildfires, Lāhainā was once the seat of the Kingdom of Hawai‘i. It has a long, illustrious cultural history and is beloved by kama‘āina across the Islands.
“It can seem like everybody in Hawai‘i is connected to someone in Maui, whether they’re related by blood or not,” AAA Hawai‘i Branch Supervisor Trina Diorec said of the grassroots community assistance immediately following the deadly firestorms that destroyed historic Lāhainā town and scorched other areas of West Maui and Hawai‘i Island. “The local connections go very deep.”
A feeling of profound grief permeates the Aloha State in the wake of this deep, collective trauma. But amid the sadness remain glimmers of hope. More than a touristy catchphrase, Hawai‘i’s famous aloha spirit is most evident in times of need.
“The folks on Maui who didn’t lose their homes turned their garages into mini Costcos,” Diorec said. “People from all over the Islands were shipping things in. The fire victims, who didn’t have anything, were allowed to take items they needed in order to survive. My hale is your hale—that is just the way of the people.”