Thousands of Lahaina Wildfire Survivors Still Have No Place To Stay

(NewsReady.com) – Over the summer, fires ripped through Maui, Hawaii. The town of Lahaina was destroyed in the disaster. Months later, thousands of survivors are still without homes.

The Lahaina Fire was the deadliest in US history in more than a century. The blaze started as brush fires on August 8 but soon burned out of control. By the time authorities were able to put them out, more than 2,100 acres had burned, incinerating more than 1,700 homes and buildings. At least 100 people died in the blaze.

Four months after the fire, nearly 6,200 people are still looking for a place to live. According to the American Red Cross, thousands are staying at 33 hotels across the island. Hundreds of others have opted to stay with family, friends, or in temporary rentals. At least 1,000 people have left the island and moved elsewhere.

The housing shortage is being made worse by the tourism season in West Maui. People flocked to the island to spend the holidays, and they were spending top dollar to stay at resorts. The shelter program is set to end in February, and officials have not decided whether to extend it. Several of the resorts that were sheltering people displaced by the fires ended their contracts with the Red Cross so that they could welcome tourists back.

Amy Chadwick, a resident who has lived in Lahaina for 25 years, told The Washington Post that this was “the saddest Christmas” her family has ever had. She is moving to Florida with her husband, mom, and three kids. They’d been paying $7,000 per month to stay at a three-bedroom home in West Maui, but the cost was out of control. They made the decision to move because their money would stretch further. Chadwick said that her family isn’t alone. “If something doesn’t change, thousands and thousands of people are going to leave,” she said.

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