WAILUKU, Hawaii – The danger and challenge have not passed on the island of Maui. Pastor Rocky Komatsu of Waiehu Community Church told Texas Baptist Men Wednesday afternoon that fires are still burning and not fully contained.
TBM is partnering with Waiehu Church to meet the influx of needs by passing along tens of thousands of dollars given by TBM supporters in recent days, said Rand Jenkins, senior director of advancement. Jenkins spoke to Komatsu Wednesday afternoon to determine the best way to help.
“The church has been addressing immediate needs by providing generators, water, fuel and other necessities,” Jenkins said. “Now they are shifting their focus, with church members housing those who lost their homes. One family is hosting 28 additional people. Think what that does to your water, electricity, food and other bills.”
The church has even reached out to some of their friends who are non-believers to host people in their homes on behalf of the church.
“What we need now are funds,” Komatsu said. “Yesterday I became nervous about having to penny pinch because items are so expensive and the need is so great.”
TBM committed to send more funds Wednesday afternoon to meet the crisis, Jenkins said. He noted that TBM stays in ongoing touch with funded entities to track how funds are actually used. "It's important that we provide general oversight on all funds that TBM disburses," he said.
The process of removing ash from the burned out houses has not yet begun, Komatsu said. It’s not safe now for people to come in and help.
“We are going to need years of support for rebuilding,” the pastor said. “We need funding now, but in months ahead we will need years of rebuilding assistance.”
Komatsu noted that the situation is not just a matter of destroyed homes. Many other homes have suffered severe wind damage to roofs, windows, and walls.
After speaking with the pastor Jenkins said simply: “It’s big. It’s not over.”
John Hall, TBM director of communications, said: “The response from the TBM family already has been incredible. We are already making an impact in Hawaii, and we're just at the start of this.
“We are still very early in the relief process. Lahaina is the city we're all seeing most often on the news, but the devastation is much broader.”
By communicating closely with partners on the ground in Maui, TBM is in a position to support residents in the best way possible and provide service connected with a Christian witness, Hall said. Fire recovery and rebuild efforts will not begin for weeks. TBM leaders are optimistic TBM volunteers will be serving in Maui during that process.
“Our many volunteers are always ready to help,” Hall said. “Right now we simply have to wait to see exactly what the needs are and how we might be able to work with local officials, churches and residents.
“This will be a long recovery process for Maui,” Hall said.