Looting After Lahaina Fire Reminds Us of Hurricane Iniki

Looting and worse crimes have now hit Lahaina following the devastation of just six days ago. Residents are asking for more help dealing with necessities of life and preventing crime at the scene of deaths that number 96 but will undoubtedly climb into the hundreds in the days and weeks ahead.

Clearly West Maui residents still there are left reeling. And there is theft occurring, perhaps just in order to obtain life’s minimum necessities of food, water, and more. We have some experience with that here on Kauai.

The owner of one Lahaina restaurant was interviewed on TV news and reported that people desperate for the necessities of life are resulting in “utter chaos.”

Shocking but not unexpected crimes follow the complete devastation of Lahaina.

A report from the owner of Lahaina bar The Dirty Monkey said, “There’s some police presence. There’s some small military presence. But at night, people are being robbed at gunpoint. I mean, they’re going through houses — and then by day it’s hunky dory. So where is the support? I don’t think our government and our leaders, at this point, know how to handle this or what to do.”

Another report featured residents saying they were “Robbed left and right for supplies like food and clothing.” That is a result of no life-sustaining resources being available in the area.

Residents are asking for more police and military support in West Maui.

Those on West Maui have no basic necessities of life, and one person reported on TV that “It is unfortunate people are turning to looting right now, but it’s about helping them.”

Looting is all too familiar during Hawaii’s natural disasters like Hurricane Iniki.

BOH editor Jeff has lived on Kauai for a very long time. During Hurricane Iniki, more than 30 years ago, he was off-island. When he returned, his home had been broken into. The reason wasn’t to steal his possessions but to take the food and other supplies from the kitchen, refrigerator, and freezer. That was done by neighbors to feed others on Kauai’s south shore at Poipu.

On Maui, residents are saying there is a lack of leadership and coordination with West Maui residents unable to find shelter, food, and water following the wildfire. Our friend who lives in Lahaina reported sleeping in his car near his burned-down home there.

One Maui resident helping to facilitate efforts to get necessities to those still there reported that the only people there helping were volunteers and that government coordination was non-existent. “We literally have no idea because we are not hearing answers from anybody. We are still left without knowing what to do.”

Officials overwhelmed by the still-increasing magnitude of Lahaina fire disaster.

There is simply no preparation for this type of apocalyptic disaster. Today a morgue was set up in Lahaina to deal with the 96 dead accounted for and the likely much larger number not yet found. Bodies can only be identified through DNA due to the nature of the circumstances. To help match victims to families, DNA is being collected from survivors. That is according to the Maui Police Chief, who is no stranger to mass death. We recall that MPD Chief John Pelletier was the police commander in charge during the 2017 Las Vegas mass murder incident.

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15 thoughts on “Looting After Lahaina Fire Reminds Us of Hurricane Iniki”

  1. Other than the typical folks who follow disasters for hand outs I don’t remember looting being a problem on Kauai after Iniki

    1. Hi Jeanne.

      I’m not sure where the idea of looting came into this. We were saying that people broke into homes in Poipu to get food for those who had none. It came from refrigerators and freezers where the food would have otherwise spoiled.


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