The Student News Site of Edmond North High School

The Pawprint | ENHS

The Pawprint | ENHS

The Pawprint | ENHS

Hawaiian Fires Touch Edmond North

 

Have you heard about the fires in Maui? What if I told you that they are affecting someone who might sit next to you in class?

 

Oscar, Bella, and their siblings in front of their house in Lahaina, Maui.

                       

Oscar and Bella Williams after a wrestling tournament, competing for Edmond North.

 

THE FIRE DEVOURS MAUI

Beautiful beaches, familial togetherness, a melting pot of customs and people, acceptance, and amazing agriculture: this is just a taste of the beauty of Lahaina, Maui. However, if you look at the news, or photos inside of Maui from the last month, you can only catch glimpses of this beauty through what hasn’t been burned to the ground. 

 

Maui’s land was the perfect recipe for disaster: dry grass, low water, heat with no humidity, and extremely high and dangerous winds. Just as the people of Lahaina lay asleep the night of August 7th, going into the 8th, the fire broke out. By August 10th, Maui was in a state of emergency. 

 

An alert was issued to the people shortly after the fires began. This alert, however, couldn’t be received by anyone in the immediate vicinity, due to the fact that the fire was caused by the blow of a powerline. All televisions, cell phones, and radios were down. The Maui government was worried about how to take action. They didn’t want to use alarms on the entire island because they use the same alarms for tsunamis. They were trying to avoid people taking high ground and going into areas where the fires were spreading and becoming trapped. 

 

On top of this, the winds were out of control. Hurricane Dora was forming, and this category 4 hurricane just aided the fire’s persistence. The fires spread from Lahaina, on the coastline, to Kula. Houses in Maui are typically closer together, and the fire had no problem eating everything in its path of destruction. 

 

TOTAL DEVASTATION 

Merely the climate should’ve sounded off mental alarms to stay aware, not to add the fact that most of Maui’s power lines are buried. The powerline that combusted, and started all of this, was not properly put underground. Maui Electric has since taken full responsibility for the fire. They “did not turn off electricity for areas where high winds were expected and could spark flames.”

 

Once the fires began, they were incredibly hard to keep up with. Fire hydrants ran out, there was an unsafe water warning, people were trying to navigate two-lane roads, and many kids were left home alone. Imagine being a child at home alone and unable to drive away, deciding what is important to live, and trying to protect your family. 

 

An aerial view of the Intermediate School post-fires.

                                         

 

 

THE FIRE TOUCHES EDMOND NORTH

There is a duality in knowing your childhood home is gone, but knowing that you have somewhere to call home despite this. For Edmond North Junior, Bella Williams, and her family, this reality is what they have to currently cope with. The Williams family lived in Lahaina until 2017. Her father, Nathan Williams, grew up in Lahaina from the age of 6, and only left to go to college. He moved back to start a family and was the wrestling coach at Lahaina Intermediate School. He was very involved in the wrestling community there, and he still is. They had four high school students from Lahaina stay with them in Edmond this June to compete. 

 

 A photo of Edmond North Wrestlers, led by Nathan Williams. Two of the Wrestlers the Williams hosted from Maui are pictured. (Sixth and seventh, third row.)

 

Bella referred to Oklahoma as part of the mainland, which is common for Hawaiian people. States in the mainland are connected to the main part of the United States. Bella said her parents’ plan was to move out of the mainland and back to Maui when their kids graduated high school, but they’re not so sure about that now. 

 

Bella found out about the fires after going to the Lana del Ray concert in Arkansas.  She said it didn’t really hit her until she saw the reactions of her parents and their friends afterward. Watching people who typically aren’t emotional drowned in the grief and loss of what was once their homeland was heartbreaking.

 

Her family lost their home, which once held her childhood bedroom and so many nostalgic memories. Not only the Williams family, but the renters who were currently living there experienced devastation. One family was left homeless, another left to re-plan their futures – all because of one fire that was not properly contained. 

 

The William’s family home after the fire.

 

Edmond North Senior, Oscar Williams, recalls that he found out from his mother. She came in crying and showing him videos about the fires and how they were demolishing their homeland. When asked about his initial reaction, Oscar replied, “I just felt really helpless, and I prayed everyone would be safe.” 

 

Bella mentioned that she was seeing people she had known before – friends, family, and even peers – on the news. There are more than 1,000 people missing currently, and terrified loved ones have made hand-written missing persons lists. 

 

HEARTBREAK AND HOPE

The magnitude of the fires could be felt from 35.1 miles away from Maui, a 52-minute drive, and Maui residents continued to feel the effects. For Daisy Rain Austin, most of her daily life and functions rely on the Hawaiian Government and resources around the island. Her family is getting food from different hubs, and she is currently sleeping in the living room of a condo. 

 

More than 1900 families are relying on the shelter hotels, run by the Red Cross. Another option would be the 250 Airbnb rentals opened by Hawaii DHS, which they are allowed to stay at for up to 21 days. They have service and power, but that only makes it so much easier. 

 

As of right now, it is an estimated $5.52 billion rebuild. “It’s kind of an alone feeling that only my family would understand because people wouldn’t understand the impact and how many people are struggling with nothing,” says Oscar, “It’s beyond heartbreaking to feel as if you’re stranded, miles away from your homeland, with no way to help.” 

 

“Lahaina is one of the strongest communities I have ever lived in,” says Oscar Williams. When asked her advice to anyone currently in Maui, Bella replied, “know that there is support, empathy, and an end.” 

 

HOW TO HELP

The American Red Cross is an extremely crucial organization in rebuilding Maui. They are setting up shelters, opening volunteer opportunities, running blood drives, and accepting donations through every form imaginable. Online, mailed, texted, and even stock-related donations are all available on their website.  They are also accepting contributions of airline miles, hotel points, and vehicles for people to get to safety. 

 

Nanea Estrella is a wrestler from Maui, and she graduated from Lahaina High School. She is currently wrestling for Iowa State, which is the first D1 program for women’s college wrestling. She had a drive accepting toys and sports equipment for children. “A lot of kids in Lahaina are in a time of peril. And they need hope. They need something to attach to. They need something to feel okay. That’s where the inspiration for the toys came in,” says Nanea to reporters from KCRG News.  

 

She is currently accepting donations through instagram for the Hawaii Food Bank. You can find the link in her instagram bio. 

 

Nanae Estrella, Holding a Hawaiian flag.

The Maui Sports Foundation is a non-profit organization created to restore sports in West Maui. Kim Ball, the man who started the organization, has partnered with Hi-Tech Maui and designed shirts with all proceeds going to the Maui Sports Foundation. There are two more designs through another partnership with Katin USA. 

 

Hi-Tech Maui design.

 

Katin USA designs.

 

 

If you would like to donate directly to the Maui Sports Foundation, they are accepting online donations through their Venmo @MauiSportsFoundation. 

 

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About the Contributor
Abby Marshall, Staff Writer
Abby Marshall is a Junior at Edmond North High School. Her essay, Two Wraps, was published in the Oklahoma Young Writer Anthology in 2023. She is excited to explore her opportunities and attend college. Abby’s strongest belief is that there is good to find in everything.

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