UW Combined Fund Drive

August 11, 2023

Help those impacted by wildfires in Hawaii

A wasteland of burned out homes and obliterated communities is left on Thursday, Aug. 10, 2023, in Lahaina, Hawaii, following a stubborn blaze. (AP Photo/Rick Bowmer)

Devastating wildfires have swept through the western coast of the Hawaiian Islands, causing widespread destruction and displacing thousands across Maui, the Big Island and the historic town of Lahaina.

Search and rescue efforts continue. The death toll is at least 115 with nearly 1,000 people still unaccounted for. Though the fires have been contained some 2,200 structures were damaged or destroyed.

Related: Fire season 2023: Prevention tips and resources

Fueled by a combination of strong winds and drought conditions in the aftermath of Hurricane Dora, the wildfires have become some of the deadliest in recent history in the U.S. Some 3,200 acres were consumed across the islands, leading to the displacement of 11,000 people. Maui hospitals have been overwhelmed with patients suffering burns and smoke inhalation.

In Lahaina, a number of heritage sites that housed treasured artifacts of the town’s legacy and history were leveled. Lahaina is a popular tourist destination whose economy largely depends on tourism.

How you can help

Donate blood: The American Red Cross reports that blood donations have been worryingly low for several months. There is an urgent call for blood donations to help victims of the fire and other natural disasters.

Support recovery efforts: Consider making a one-time or ongoing donation through payroll deduction to a UWCFD nonprofit actively working in the communities affected by the fires:

The American Red Cross (charity code 0337346) provides many relief services in the aftermath of disasters, including sheltering and feeding evacuees in shelters, providing mental health support and counseling for families impacted with tips on self-care and how to cope. When it is safe to do so, Red Cross teams will help with damage assessment and begin distributing relief supplies.

If you are interested in volunteering with the Red Cross disaster relief team, you can learn more here.

American Red Cross Disaster Relief Services (charity code 1468727): We respond to an emergency every 8 minutes. No one else does this: not the government, not other charities. From small house fires to multi-state natural disasters, the American Red Cross goes wherever we’re needed, so people can have clean water, safe shelter and hot meals when they need them most.

Americares (charity code 0315518): Americares is preparing to deploy an emergency response team to help survivors of the deadly wildfires on the Hawaiian island of Maui. Upon arrival, the team will assess the needs of local health care facilities, coordinate emergency shipments of medicine and relief supplies and work with local and national organizations responding to the crisis.

Humane Society Disaster Relief (charity code 0314983): Our Animal Rescue and Response team is prepared to answer the call for any large-scale emergencies, such as hurricanes, tornadoes, wildfires, earthquakes, utility outages and more.

The Maui Humane Society is providing emergency kits and pet supplies to displaced pet owners and caring for injured animals.

The Salvation Army USA (charity code 1478728) Hawaiian and Pacific Islands division is providing food and emotional and spiritual care, and other critical services, to evacuees.

Non-UWCFD organizations helping wildfire-affected communities:

  • The Hawai’i Community Foundation is accepting donations through its Maui Strong Fund. The foundation has already raised $1 million to help fire victims. To donate, visit the fund’s website.
  • Maui United Way works to address Maui’s vital needs by focusing on education, income and health. The organization has set up a Maui Fire and Disaster Relief Donations Page.
  • Maui Food Bank is Maui County’s primary safety net for hunger relief. The Food Bank provides safe and nutritious food to anyone in Maui County who is at risk of going hungry.
  • World Central Kitchen provides meals to people in need by partnering with local organizations.
  • Mercy Chefs, a leading provider of hot meals and relief for those facing disaster, has deployed and we are serving meals to victims and emergency workers.

Resources for children: Disasters can leave children and teens feeling frightened, confused and insecure. Their responses can be quite varied. It’s important to not only recognize these reactions, but also help children cope with their emotions. Ready Kids has tools and information geared toward kids and teens to help before, during and after disasters.

Find loved ones: If you need assistance locating a missing loved one due to the current disaster, please call 1-800 RED CROSS (1-800-733-2767) and select Option 4. Follow the voice prompts for “Hawaii Wildfires.”

Foster displaced animals: The Maui Humane Society is seeking emergency foster families for animals displaced by the fire. They are also providing emergency kits and pets supplies to families that have been evacuated. Learn more at Maui Fires Pets Help Group.

Wildfire safety: Wildfire, which can be exacerbated by drought conditions, is a very real threat in Western Washington. Read about wildfire prevention tips and resources and learn about how UW research is helping to predict wildfire severity.

Guidance for travelers: The Hawaii Tourism Authority is asking visitors who are on nonessential travel to leave Maui and discouraging people from traveling there. Here’s what people with an upcoming trip to Maui or other Hawaiian Islands need to know.