Thank you all our loyal readers for your patience. If you have been wondering why the Stand Up Magazin has been offline of this long. This is our story:
The day we lost Lahaina
It is Sunday August the 6th and we all anticipate the passing of Hurricane Dora hundreds of miles south of Hawaii. Wingfoilers and Downwind enthusiasts could not have been more excited because the wind was forecasted to be extremely strong as the low pressure created by the hurricane in the south squeezed up against the high-pressure that brings Hawaii its trade winds. People tried to clear their schedule as Monday and Tuesday looked really promising for amazing Maliko Runs.
That Monday these downwind dreams came through for some people and other like us were getting ready for a busy week with kids going back to school and the Stand Up Magazin #24 was going to print. It was a busy and windy day.
Tuesday 8.8.2023 ground zero
Sometime during the night from Monday to Tuesday the power went out in West Maui. We woke up with no power but lucky we still had cell phone reception and were able to communicate. Winds got even stronger and that day speed records at the Maliko Run were broken. With high winds, often brush fires break out. Most of the time it is downed power lines that ignites the brush. The fire department had its hands full. There were smaller and bigger fires all over Maui. A particularly big one broke out upcountry and burned over 1000 acres in Kula.
We accepted the fact that power won’t come on most likely for a full day and made arrangements accordingly. It was extremely windy, and a visit to Lahaina showed already how people dealt with the power outages. Everybody tried to buy supplies and word had it that some major power lines were on the ground. It became apparent that we will not have power for a while. Gusts coming down the West Maui mountains clocked in over 80mph / 120kmh. It was better to stay away from Lahaina that day. We made the best out of it up north in our home. Local social media pages kept the residents updated. It was a stay at home day with police and fire department being very busy as it is.
I personally could not sit still and decided to check my local wing spot and after much contemplation I decided to rig up and try to get in the water. I lasted about 15 minutes, the gusty wind was way too much for my 2.5m wing paired with a 800cm2 front wing. It was pointless to stay out in the ocean. Due to my offshore location I saw thick black smoke in the sky.
It became clear that the small brush fired reported earlier in Lahaina has grown to a very concerning size. I packed up my gear and went to the West Maui airport from where I could get a better visual of the smoke. People already gathered there, and it was clear that the smoke in the sky was not from natural materials. All indicators pointed towards houses on fire. It was about 16:45 (4:45) when we lost cell phone reception.
Back home neighbors were in the street talking and as the sun went down we could see an orange glow from 10 miles (16km) away. This was Lahaina and this was not good. We went to bed telling ourselves that the fire department would be able to take care of things and that the next day things would go back to normal.
Wednesday August 9th West Maui changed forever (Day 1 new world)
We woke up with still no cell phone reception and no power. At 6am we had our friends at the door asking to go to the bathroom telling us that they evacuated their house in the late afternoon and then having to evacuate once again from their parents’ house just north of the town at 3am. It was then when it became clear that something horrific must have happened. We walked up to the local market and found hundreds of people and cars in the streets. People fled Lahaina over night as the fire started to consume the entire town.
Rumors started to spread that all of Front Street (Lahaina historic shopping mile) was burnt to the ground. We were in disbelieve but from the amount of people in the parking lot and on the highway we knew there was a catastrophe overnight. Everybody had a story of destruction and devastation.
The Stand Up Magazin and JUCKER HAWAII has an office and warehouse in the industrial center of Lahaina and anxieties were growing about the loss of the business. Thanks to a friend we had the opportunity to ride electric bikes into town through back roads.
What we saw changed everything: The sight of entire neighborhoods gone brought tears to our eyes. It was like going through a war zone. There was lots of smoke and structures were still on fire. Luckily industrial buildings are all made from metal and concrete. Besides a few exceptions the entire industrial neighborhood was still intact. The brand new rental building on top of our street was still on fire and one warehouse was melted. We rode our bikes through multiple roads including Lahaina’s iconic front street. By the amount of burned cars jammed up in the street we could only imagine the terror the people must have experienced.
We heard stories of people running for their lives jumping into the ocean. We saw burned pets in the streets and the smell of toxic smoke became unbearable. We had to go and see if some of our friends still had a home, so we pressed on further into town. The sight of devastation was something so unreal that we could not even comprehend what was going on. It was time to leave, we saw first-hand what happened and were able to tell firsthand stories to people wondering if they still had a house. Stopping rumors in situations like this is a key component to peoples need for comfort.
The days to come were depressing associated with lack of sleep and appetite. Seeing a town gone we have called our home for over 20 years was too much to handle.
Day 2 and beyond
After a night of very little sleep people woke up with anxiety and grief. Still not many people did not know what really happened and all the hotels were at full occupancy. An emergency proclamation was issued by the government and tourists were asked to leave. Extra transportation was organized and airlines were offering extra flight to Oahu. People not living in West Maui needed to get out as fast as possible.
Once the word spread help arrived from other islands. West Maui was mostly caught off from the rest of the world. All internet and power was lost and information was really hard to get. Boats and small planes started to arrive with supplies long before official help arrived on site. Restaurants opened up their pantries and were cooking food for all the people. Donation centers opened at beach parks and more boats arrived. It was overwhelming how much support we received in the first days. The entire community came together to help each other.
We have many friends who lost their home, many coworkers who lost family and so many people are still not accounted for.
We are now at day 7 and things are just getting started. The death toll is rising and people are wondering how we are going to continue with their lives.
Please consider a donation to our Stand Up Magazin / JUCKER HWAII relief fund. We will document all of the recovery as long as it takes and share the stories of friends, co-workers and families who we are able to help with your help.