As the phased reopening of West Maui officially begins Sunday, the County of Maui is distributing a series of videos for the Maui community and its visitors.
The first features Maui County Mayor Richard T. Bissen, who acknowledges the road ahead will not be easy but pledges county resources and aid will continue to all affected by August’s wildfires.
The second video is a message for visitors from Maui community members. Long-time Maui Kumu Hula and educator Hōkūlani Holt, Ph.D. anchors the video.
It also features Kumu Hula and proprietor of cultural retail boutique Native Intelligence Kapono‘ai Molitau, visitor industry cultural manager Oralani Koa and Hāloa Dudoit, a community organizer and youth baseball coach.
While there has not been restrictions on tourists on Maui for weeks, with the exception of the Lahaina burn zone, Oct. 8 marks the official reopening to West Maui announced a month ago by Hawaiʻi Gov. Josh Green.
Bissen announced a “phased approach” on Sept. 27 to enable residents to return to work, establish needed childcare, settle children into the temporary state Department of Education elementary and intermediate schools and Lahainaluna High School, and provide for a more deliberate process to help with housing needs for the thousands in temporary shelters at many hotel properties.
But many people feel it is too soon. An online petition demanding a delay to the planned reopening of West Maui has garnered nearly 17,000 signatures.
“As we welcome people to our home, we want visitors to understand that our island is making its way through a devastating tragedy,” Bissen said. “The hope is that people will come to Maui with sensitivity and compassion. “There will be challenges in our path of recovery, but we remain Maui Strong.”