Kaanapali community sets up supply hub for Maui fire survivors

Grassroots efforts to help those in Maui are still alive and strong in the heart of the burn area.
Published: Aug. 17, 2023 at 6:33 AM PDT
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MAUI, HI (KPTV) - More federal and state help is being made available everyday for the survivors of the Maui fires, but grassroots efforts to help is still alive and strong in the heart of the burn area.

Now that the main road to Lahaina is back open to everyone, more goods and supplies are getting to the people who need them, but a few people in Kaanapali didn’t wait for an official supply chain to help their neighbors.

“Because we didn’t have power and the stores were getting flooded with people, we decided, ‘hey, let’s do something,’” Kanamu Baninbin said.

SEE ALSO: Residents dealing with water issues following wildfires on Maui

The morning after the devastating fire swept through Lahaina, Baninbin and his friends decided not to wait for necessary supplies to come to them.

Now a small compound, it started with one tent and one table and a few things to give away. Hours later, trucks from Hana arrived with more.

“Truckload of water, truckload of canned goods and necessities, and not just canned goods but canned goods with openers, generators filled with gas and gas reserves,” Baninbin said.

The neighborhood in Kaanapali was spared but still cut off from everything they needed. Baninbin says many of his family members lost their homes in the Lahaina fire.

He told FOX 12 it was so painful to see it that he had to turn around and leave.

“I’m a war veteran. I was in the Army and I know. I know... that’s what it reminds me of. It looks like a bomb dropped in,” he said.

He doesn’t yet know how many of his loved ones perished in the fire.

“We don’t know yet. So a lot of us haven’t had a chance to mourn yet,” he said. “This is how we’re coping, by helping people.”

Along with food, water and supplies for every member of the family, the hub also has medical care. Getting people what they need from prescriptions that can’t be filled because of closed pharmacies, to help with burns and cuts sustained when escaping the fire.

“Because of the situation, some of them had gotten infected, so we’ve been trying to treat them and make sure they have the right antibiotics and wound care they need,” said physician assistant Stephanie Manzella.

SEE ALSO: ‘I felt overwhelmed’: Maui woman shares story of escaping flames

Baninbin says everyone at the hub will keep supplying that care, items to live until it is no longer necessary.

“We will mourn at one point. You know, we all need to cry at some point and that will happen. That will happen. Just not right now,” he said.

Every day there are new resources for the survivors of the fire, from a recovery center where people can talk to FEMA for help, to a SNAP waiver so holders can use their cards to buy hot and ready to eat food and not just groceries.