A tight knit group of friends pulled resources together to stand up a makeshift pit stop at the Lahaina Post Office, providing gas, ice and other necessities to residents in need.
“When I heard they were going to fill up with gas, and give things out, we decided to load the truck up with—we have a refrigerated truck (with the Maui Food Hub)—so we decided to load it up with ice and be like a little gas station… gas, ice, you know, produce in the back—that kind of thing,” said Autumn Ness, Maui Hub Board Vice President.
Maui Hub is a nonprofit organization that formed during the beginning of COVID lockdowns to connect Mauiʻs local food producers directly with customers.
The ice was provided by Kīhei Ice, which filled up the back of the van from Maui Hub.
“This is going to be a really long road of need, and the folks that have been displaced are going to need support, especially with shelter in the long term,” said Ness, who drove out from Kīhei.
Ness said she hadn’t really asked around about people’s personal experiences. “I haven’t really been asking to be honest. I don’t really want to make them re-live it. I know that everyone’s been through their own horrible thing. We’re just here to support and make things a little bit easier while we can,” she said.
According to Ness, residents collected donations, put it on a card, and filled up large transport tanks to assist. “It’s not organized by anybody, it’s just people coming together,” she said.
When asked how long the group intended to be out in Lahaina, Ness said, “until the ice and the gas are gone.”
West Maui resident Kihei, who lost his home in the Lahaina fire is saving his grief for later. He was among the group that managed to transport gas and ice to the Lahaina Post Office on Friday when temporary access was granted for area residents.
The Honoapiʻilani Highway was open for just four hours before it got shut down at 4 p.m. on Friday due to problems police were encountering with unauthorized access to restricted and sensitive areas.
“We gathered our group of friends together… the best thing to do is right now is get information from people that are out there [to find out] what they need. And what they need right now is fuel, ice… they need everything,” said Kihei.
“We’re just here to fill up what we can for gas and ice,” said Kihei, who had planned to return on Saturday, but restrictions on access could impact the timing.
His message: “Just help each other. Help. Our kupuna can grieve for us right now, but for all the young people that can help, help.”
“Right now you just gotta come together and be as one. Help each other out. I know everybody’s mad about a lot of things—what officials are doing, and you know—just move on from that and just do what you gotta do, and help… that’s all we can do,” he said.
*Maui Now’s Jack Dugan, Bob McIntyre, and Wendy Osher contributed to this report.