Maui Recovery – The long road ahead

MEDB recognizes the catastrophic toll that the Lahaina and Upcountry wildfires have had on our community, both on Maui and statewide. With 115 family members, friends, and neighbors gone and more still missing, Maui is still grieving its profound loss, and recovery will be an ongoing process in the months and years to come.

Economically, the island is on the verge of a different kind of catastrophe. According to the University of Hawaiʻi Economic Research Organization (UHERO), businesses in Lahaina generated more than $70 million per month in revenue in accommodation, food services, retail sales, and other categories, and they employed about 8,500 individuals. With most West Maui businesses closed, UHERO the total loss of revenue adds up to more than $13 million per day.  The Hawaiʻi Department of Business, Economic Development, and Tourism has also reported that unemployment claims rose from an average of 130 cases per week before the wildfire to 865 cases in the first week after the fire, to 4,449 cases in the second week after the fire, and to 2,705 cases the third week after the fire.

Despite these challenges, the local community as well as supporters from all over the world have joined together to launch relief and recovery efforts, including everything from locals hosting their displaced neighbors to celebrities and large corporations providing financial support. By September 8th, one month after the fires, the Maui Strong Fund had received over $110 million in donations to redistribute to local non-profits. The Red Cross served more than 198,000 meals and hosted nearly 98,500 overnight stays during the first month of the disaster. More than 5,000 people have been approved for FEMA Individual Assistance, and FEMA and the U.S. Small Business Administration have approved more than $65 million in federal assistance.

MEDB is striving to find additional ways to support our local business owners who have been impacted by the fires both directly and indirectly. We recently launched the Maui Business Recovery Fund, made possible thanks to the generous support of the Principal Foundation. For a list of additional community resources and trusted sources of information, please view our homepage.