10:14 pm ET, August 11, 2023
Displaced Lahaina residents struggle to find loved ones while struggling with the grief of lost homes
From CNN’s Mitchell McCluskey in Maui, Hawaii
Hundreds of displaced Maui residents have taken shelter at the War Memorial Gymnasium, where the Red Cross, Maui County and other organizations are providing aid and supplies.
Fires on Maui have killed at least 67 people and displaced many more.
Many of the residents of the War Memorial Gymnasium came from the historic town of Lahaina and fled with only the clothes on their backs. Some say they can’t find their loved ones.
A grassroots effort to reunite families has begun in front of the gymnasium, where Post-it notes with contact information and names are pinned to a board.
Inside the shelter, scores of people are camped out on mattresses on the floor.
Kathleen Dukes, 46, was born and raised in Lahaina and said it was surreal to see her community in flames.
“I was in shock. It really looked like a ghost town,” Dukes said.
Dukes had to leave his elderly mother behind as she fled the fire. He said he was able to speak to his mother for the first time on Friday. Although an aunt and sister’s house burned down, the house they share is still standing, Dukes said.
Lynn Robison, 66, lived in the heart of Lahaina next to the Wharf Cinema Center.
When they heard about the fire, Robison and his friends went to the shore near the sea in case they had to jump into the water. They slept the whole night on the grass beside the beach.
“When we woke up in the morning, everything around us was destroyed,” Robison said, “and it was like a war zone.”
Robison returned to his apartment complex to find it burned to the ground.
Nelan Caesar, 58, along with her husband and three children, told CNN they arrived at the shelter Thursday after fleeing their Lahaina home of more than 30 years.
Cesar and his family grabbed what they could, but they were devastated by the loss of family photos and memorabilia from his childhood in the Philippines.
His daughter returned to the location of the house and sent pictures showing it razed to the ground. Caesar said the loss was difficult to comprehend.
“I’d like to see the evidence, and I’m still hoping and praying that it’s still there,” Caesar said.