As classes resume on Maui, 1 in 4 children are likely missing as a result of the Lahaina fire that devastated the area. 3,357 students will be relocated to different schools due to damage to the centers they attended.
However, only 400 students from the area that burned have re-enrolled in other public schools. Reuters reports that around 200 students have signed up for distance learning. Lahaina schools, from elementary to high school, housed more than 3,000 students, and it is unclear how many of those students have been transferred, enrolled elsewhere or died.
“For the schools that started today,” said Alex Fielding, CEO of Privateer, which works to bring power and Wi-Fi to devastated areas. fox“I can’t imagine what the roll call is like…when one in four is likely not going to be in these classes, in these neighborhoods. I don’t know how you have enough teachers or counselors or therapists, or how there’s no way justice to the real tragedy on the ground.”
The fires destroyed 2,200 homes, displaced nearly 5,000, and the death toll is still unknown. Only 6 of the 114 known dead have been identified. This number will be keep going up. Counseling will be offered to schools that are reopening outside the burn area.
“Over a thousand are missing, about 1,050,” Hawaii Gov. Josh Green told Face the Nation on Sunday after wildfires ripped through the island of Maui, devastating the town of Lahaina. The fires broke out on August 8.
“It will still take several weeks,” he said, “some of the challenges will be extraordinary.”
Green said 85 percent of the land that burned was covered by search and rescue teams, including 41 cadaver dogs. The next step in the recovery process is getting into the larger buildings, Green said, “which requires peeling back some of the floors and structures.” That, he said, “could take weeks.”
Other concerns are about the condition of these remains. “We are extremely concerned that because of the temperature of the fire, the remains of those who have died, in some cases, may be impossible to recover in any meaningful way. So there will be people who will be lost forever. And right now we “We’re working, obviously, with the FBI and everybody on the ground to make sure we’re doing everything we can to assess who’s missing.”
Green addressed the concerns of many who have been lost children. Schools were closed that day and children were home alone, or many were looked after by grandparents, while parents were at work. An entire family was found burned to death in their car.
Internally, he said, these are discussions they are having. He told Face the Nation that “there may be a lot of kids.”
“Our parents work one, two, three jobs just to get by and can’t afford to take a day off… Without school, there was no place for [kids] to go that day,” Maui kindergarten teacher Jessica Sill said.
Lahaina, with a population of less than 14,000 as of the 2020 census, has a official death toll of about 114. Recovery teams are searching the ruins of the village to try to discover the bodies and identify the missing. However, Green said that because of the extensive destruction, it would be very difficult to identify many of the remains.
Federal agents are still working to determine what caused the fire. The area was at high wildfire risk due to Hurricane Dora creating high winds and dry conditions. On Aug. 8, a brush fire started in Upcountry Maui, “causing evacuations,” Hawaii News Now reports. More than 1,000 acres were burned in Olinda and Kula.
In Lahaina, winds knocked down power lines. A neighbor reported seeing power lines come down and ignite dry vegetation. Winds were between 45 and 67 miles per hour. “So far, there has been speculation that power lines are to blame for starting the fires,” Hawaiian News reported.
A lawsuit has already been launched against power companies for not turning off power in the face of high winds, and the potential for those winds to knock down power lines and cause fires. Roads were closed due to downed power lines.
A brush fire near Lahaina was reportedly contained, but “an apparent flare-up” prompted more closures and evacuations than those near the Lahaina Bypass. It appears that this was when the Lahaina fire began in earnest when flames began to tear through the area.
The fire burned out of control, with cars stopped on the roads. The sirens didn’t go off because of one official decision not to sound them. The reason for this was that the officer said that sirens are used for tsunamis, and he feared that people would sink into the hills, as they would with tsunamis, and that would lead to the fire.
Speaking to Face the Nation, Green reiterated this, saying that the sirens, which were also not fully functional, are used for tsunamis. “Would I like those sirens going off? Of course they do,” he said. “And I think the response of the Maui emergency manager, who has resigned, was, of course, completely unsatisfactory to the world. But it’s the case that historically we haven’t used these kinds of warnings for wildfires “.
A water officer also delayed the release of more water to help firefighters fight the blaze, waiting five hours to approve a request to divert more water. He considered it necessary to consult with a local farmer about the impact of diverting the water before releasing it. M. Kaleo Manuel resigned from his position as Deputy Director of the Hawaii Water Resources Management Commission and was transferred to a different government position.
This made the people of Lahaina unaware of the impending disaster that threatened their lives and homes. A hundred people jumped into the ocean to save themselves from the rapidly encroaching flames. The Coast Guard deployed ships to help fight the fires and to rescue people from the Pacific Ocean.
Lahaina was ravaged by flames.