A team of 13 people deployed from Texas to Maui Oct. 7 to help with recovery in the aftermath of the wildfires that occurred in early August.
Considered the deadliest U.S. fire in more than a century, the fires in Maui destroyed more than 2,000 acres of land and killed 97 people. Most of the structures burned in the fire were residential.
Homeowners only recently returned to their homes and saw for the first time the damage to their property. As they sift through ash and other debris to try to regain possessions, the TBM Disaster Relief team will be there to help in any way needed.
The experience will be “quite emotional,” said Curt Neal, team leader for the TBM team.
“For the first few days, we might be working more in a chaplaincy role,” he said. “It’s not just possessions. They’ve lost neighbors. It’s going to take some time to reflect on what their loss has been, and we’re going to be there for them. We will provide emotional support and be there to do whatever they want.”
It probably won’t be a typical TBM ash-out effort, Neal continued. The teams will work slowly and evaluate the needs of the homeowners. They will be flexible and work with what the homeowners need. For some, they may need emotional support. Others may need help sifting through ash to find possessions. For those whose homes did not burn, they may need help moving furniture and other items from their home.
“We are coming in with open ears and open arms,” Neal said. “We don’t really know what to expect, but the team is willing and ready to serve.”
The team will be there for several weeks.
“Recovery of this magnitude takes time,” said David Wells, director of TBM Disaster Relief. “We are so thankful for everyone who is praying and those who have donated to this effort. You are helping to deliver help, hope and healing to Hawaiians during this difficult time.”