As Maui fire recovery stalled, neighbors rallied for one another
WaPo Feb 7, 2024: …The second inferno, which destroyed much of the treasured town of Lahaina and claimed 100 lives, quickly overshadowed the calamity in Kula. In the days and months that followed, Upcountry residents grew frustrated with a government bureaucracy stretched thin by multiple disasters.
At the same time, the attention of many people elsewhere on the island and state has faded, even though the Kula fire is still burning — in root systems and buried debris, occasionally bursting into the open in terrifying flare-ups.
“It’s amazing how many people, even on Maui, will still come up to Kula and go, ‘Oh, my God, I had no idea,’” said Kari McCarthy, who lost her home of 40 years to the August fire.
Nearly six months later, the overlooked story of Kula shows the challenges that officials, aid organizations and residents face in the age of successive, cascading natural disasters. But Kula has also become a case study of a community’s ability to at least partly fill the breach left by overwhelmed government agencies. A dedicated group of neighbors have banded together, formed nonprofits, enlisted heavy machinery to clean up burned properties, and worked to prevent landslides on charred hillsides. And they are looking toward the future, seeking to rid the land of the invasive plants that fueled so much destruction.
Their actions, funded by donations and volunteers, could be instructive for other places — such as Lahaina, which faces a much longer road to recovery — looking to rebound from past disasters and prevent future ones.
“There’s been a mass reckoning of ‘No one is coming to save you,’” said Kyle Ellison, who founded the nonprofit Malama Kula after his family’s house nearly burned in August. “For a long time, people looked to government like it was their job to take care of everything. But the best course of action is not to go through elected officials, it’s to stand up and do it. If we want anything done, just stand up and do it.”…
read … As Maui fire recovery stalled, neighbors rallied for one another
KITV: Nearly six months after Maui fires, Kula residents rebuild with 'community-driven' approach | Local | kitv.com