Wildfires have decimated the town of Lahaina on Maui this week. The death toll increased to at least 53 on Thursday and that number is expected to go up.
Danyelle Cedar has lived in Lahaina for more than 10 years. She was forced to evacuate her home.
“I can’t even picture it. Yesterday morning I was still holding on to hope that ‘is my home still there?’ I was still picturing it. I know what my house looks like. I don’t know what it looks like to not be there,” Cedar said.
Cedar evacuated to Wailuku, 22 miles east of Lahaina.
Shortly after, it was confirmed her house was reduced to ash.
“Evacuating- I really did not think I was going to lose my house to a fire. I was evacuating because I had my nine-month-old godson and I just thought ‘we’re evacuating to get away from the smoke,’” Cedar said.
In the chaos of the mass evacuation, Cedar shares a story of her friend who had to flee into the ocean with their kids away from the flames.
“It’s not like you’re jumping into a calm ocean. The waves are huge. We have a hurricane on the horizon. So the waves are pounding people back on shore. But they’re trying to swim out because the flames are so hot and embers are falling on them. My friends kids- they’re teens. They were in the water for four hours,” Cedar said.
If the scenes from Maui weren’t enough to convince, Cedar has a message for anyone who is thinking of taking a Maui vacation.
“Please cancel it. Do not come here. We cannot entertain you right now. This is not your Disneyland. We need the resources. We need the hotel rooms. We need the food. We need the rental cars. So many people lost their cars,” Cedar said.
The current death toll on Maui can rise as rescuers search areas that were previously unreachable.
You can help the victims of the Maui fires by donating to these organizations: