Maui Fire Victims Replace Visitors In Hotels, Airbnbs, Timeshares

Hawaii Governor Josh Green just announced what we had already been hearing in comments including those below from visitors. That is that one milestone in the Lahaina fire recovery, the closing of Red Cross temporary housing, has occurred.

There are 4,400 Maui fire survivors who have now been moved into West Maui hotels and other accommodations typically used for visitors. Of those some 900 are staying in Airbnb vacation rentals. The state said that “These accommodations will continue to provide meals, casework services, financial recovery resources and other disaster relief assistance.”

“We want to thank our partners at the American Red Cross, FEMA, the hotel industry and Airbnb, for stepping up during this unprecedented tragedy… I would also like to express my gratitude to the West Maui properties who are housing hundreds of their team members and their families. These hotels and timeshares have generously opened up their properties without hesitation. I especially want to thank the Royal Lahaina Resort for being the first hotel to step up to the plate and offer housing for those displaced from the wildfires”

Josh Green, Governor.

Evolving situation in West Maui.

The housing of fire victims in West Maui is progressing, which will continue to change Maui hotel and vacation rental availability for the next couple of months, if not longer. The information is still limited and changing as to which resorts and areas are included for housing of those displaced and for what duration. Clearly, however, the Kaanapali Resort area is a primary location where those impacted by the catastrophic Lahaina fire will be housed.

Dave just commented that: “I am an owner at Kaanapali Shores. We just received an email stating that Kaanapali Shores has entered into a contract with the Red Cross to house those that have lost homes and first responders through October 31, 2023. I see all Aston West Maui properties have closed out availability until Nov 1, 2023.”

Another comment said, “Yesterday I checked in with (Kaanapali Shores) again and was told that all reservations through September 30 had been cancelled because Kaanapali Shores was housing the displaced and volunteers. It was also noted that there is no internet or cable TV, and intermittent power outages. I never received cancellation notice and none of this is explained in their online updates, which make it sound like you can cancel ‘if you wish’ but that nothing has been auto-cancelled.”

Meanwhile, the Hawaii Emergency Management Agency administrator said, “This team effort to help Maui’s kamaaina get out of group shelters and into stable and more private housing was executed with tremendous speed. We hope restoring some stability will help the community heal.”

Temporary solution to help residents who cannot return to their homes.

This will provide a temporary solution while long-term housing plans are developed in collaboration with the county and the West Maui community. These hotels and Airbnb properties were selected in West Maui in order to keep people close to their home communities and preserve as much as possible some degree of continuity in the survivors’ lives. We do not have a list of which properties are included at this time.

The American Red Cross is operating the housing agreement under a contract it has with the state. It is being funded through FEMA, whose Admin. Deanne Criswell said, “Because of the tremendous partnership between FEMA, Hawaii, and our nonprofit partners, thousands of residents have transitioned out of shelters and into hotels.”

FEMA said that it is coordinating housing without regard to eligibility during the first 30 days and will later conduct eligibility reviews. Thereafter, those survivors registered for FEMA help whose homes are deemed to be uninhabitable, can remain in a Maui hotel or vacation rental until they, together with FEMA help, are able to find their own housing.

Let us know if you have any questions on this evolving situation in West Maui.

Photo credit Royal Lahaina Resort, acknowledged by the state for stepping forward to help Lahaina fire victims.

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66 thoughts on “Maui Fire Victims Replace Visitors In Hotels, Airbnbs, Timeshares”

  1. Thank you for the opportunity to express my sadness for all effected by this tragedy. My husband and I love visiting Maui. Is there any thing we can do to help in person? We don’t have a lot of money but we are compassionate and physically healthy and have time to give.

  2. Major major kudos for getting those Maui shelters emptied and closed quickly.

    More major kudos for the Honolulu convention center shelter. Immediate response, and wrap-around support (airport bus, services). HCC shelter wasn’t widely used, but was a brilliant response.

    I certainly expected hoards of tourists to get off Maui ASAP. Evacuation to Oahu was sensible.

    Better to be over prepared than overwhelmed.

    There should be an award here, somewhere.

  3. Aloha again BOH, I was trying to reply to you regarding the email from Hawaiian Air. I thought it was odd that if we don’t make a change by September 1 (less than a week away), for our October 9 reservation, we lose some of the options. It doesn’t seem like much time to make a decision that could end up costing a lot of money. We’re trying to figure out is we should go to West Maui and when. We don’t want to intrude, take resources from locals or put anyone in danger. I guess that’s the way airlines operate.

    We’re now leaning toward going at the end of October or early November. We’ll lay low, as we always do, be kind and tip generously.

    Thank you for your responses.
    Much Aloha.

  4. We have reservations at the Westin South in late sept. We are also willing to serve at a local church which our church is supporting financially! I would hate for the Governor to set policies against those who are wanting to serve local businesses and employees from coming to support!!

  5. Something I don’t understand.
    We are hearing that South Maui needs tourism dollars to maintain it’s economy.
    Yet, we also hear that tourism is unthinkable at this time.

    What is the best way to support Maui?

    We have visited Kihei 4 times, and want to help, (“voluntourism?”), but don’t want to be resented, (donations have been sent).

    Don’t know what to do.

    1. Maureen,
      There are a lot of people on Maui quite concerned that tourists will avoid Maui. They will lose their ability to feed their families and make enough money to recover from this tragedy. They want to get back on their feet as quickly as they can. Any resort that has room for you will benefit from your business. Restaurants that are open could use your business, etc. etc. People need to work and feel productive for their financial and emotional well being. I can’t imagine anyone in Kihei resenting you being there, you mentioned voluntourism, I suspect that will be a growing component in tourism to Maui. Your heart is in the right place and Maui needs people like you.

  6. I’m not sure where to leave this comment. This is horrendous for the people who have lost friends/family/property in the fire. Everyone is searching to blame someone, eg., Hawaiian Electric. Infrastructure in HI is not the best; however, who planted invasive grasses that fed the fire? Who designed such tight housing and narrow streets? Everyone wants to blame someone, but this was a natural disaster. Only lawyers will benefit from lawsuits.

    1. I beg to differ.

      If a doctor is incompetent and botches a few surgeries, maims a few people, and gets away with it, because someone like you convinces the doctors patients not to sue, sure, the lawyers will not benefit.

      I’ll give you that.

      But nobody besides the bad doctor benefits.

      To imply or suggest that victims of this terrible tragedy should not want or attempt to hold those rightfully responsible accountable for their incompetence or negligence is absurd.

      1. Brian,

        I think I’m more with Dot on this. But with a somewhat different take on responsibility.

        I think before any lawsuits should be allowed to go forward, the plaintiffs should be required to present evidence to the judge. What evidence – that formal complaints have been made, in the past, and no action was taken if it’s likely that had the complaints been addressed the fire would not have spread as much.

        In others, stop frivolous lawsuits early. Also, legitimate lawsuits to go forward.

        On a related item – insurance. It’s one thing to have insufficient insurance, quite another to not have any insurance (fire in this case). Folks who own property but don’t insure it, should not be made whole by the taxpayer. Property owners have responsibilities. Ditto for life insurance.

        1. That is very confusing to me. I would think that most of those homeowner in Lahaina have a mortgage and lenders do require homeowner’s insurance (even condos have fire and hazard insurance) before lending money ….

  7. Once again BOH leads the way with on-the-ground travel info. Maui Vacations Worldwide (lots of properties in West Maui including Ocean Villas) sent a letter to time-share holders stating, like many other resorts in this BOH report, they are currently housing displaced families (workers and refugees) with no timeline for reopening to tourism. The scope of the task at hand is monumental, and FEMA/Red Cross/State of Hawaii appear to be doing mostly the right things in mostly the right order. So what if we go by “models” of assistance? It’s better than making it up as we go – and there is a modicum of that surely happening because that is what is needed as well. Here’s a reality check: Three years ago a wildfire, much like Lahaina’s, ripped through the Oregon town of Detroit. 700 homes lost. At the same time another grass-fed wildfire blew through the town of Phoenix, Oregon taking another 2,500 homes. FEMA/Red Cross had trailers and motor homes within weeks for the thousands of displaced. The point I am making is that we can’t just expect trucks hauling manufactured homes to show up two-weeks post disaster to an island 2500 miles from the mainland. They will need to be shipped in. This will take a while. We should be praising and encouraging those who are helping in the now. PS. Those fire ravaged Oregon towns are still rebuilding but look better than ever – tourism is back. A glimpse of the future?

    1. Maleko, great post in many ways….totally void of finger pointing and a great example of future potential. The more people that feel this way the better the recovery will go. I’m not giving the Maui Government a pass, there will be a lot to learn and I have my own ideas on their shortcomings. But simply put recovery and rebuilding is what’s important now and as always the conspiracy theories and finger pointers just hamper the process.

  8. It has been barely two weeks since an unprecedented disaster.
    You complain the housing situatation is disjointed and disorganized. What is your first-hand experience to support these broad claims?
    It has been barely two weeks since August 8. How would you have stepped in personally to make the temporary housing situation for over 4000 individuals run more smoothly? Please provide specific details.

    Today, Maui County annouced they are closing shelters since nearly all displaced persons have been transferred to temporary, better houseing. August 25. Less than 2 wks after the disaster.


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