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Catholics appeal for help as Biden declares Maui’s deadly fires a federal emergency

HONOLULU (OSV News) – Catholic Charities Hawai’i in the Honolulu Diocese has appealed for donations to help the agency meet housing, food and other needs of what could be thousands of victims from wildfires raging on the island of Maui that wiped out an entire town and drove people to seek refuge in the ocean. More than 11,000 people were evacuated as wildfires burned the historic town of Lahaina “to the ground,” as numerous news outlets reported. Maui County officials confirmed Aug. 12 that at least 93 people have died, though that number was expected to multiply, and dozens of others were injured. An assessment of the Lahaina fire by the Pacific Disaster Center and Federal Emergency Management Agency reported 2,170 acres burned and more than 2,200 structures were damaged or destroyed. Other Maui communities affected by the fires include the Kihei area and inland communities known as Upcountry. News reports said that wildfires also were affecting the Big Island (officially named Hawaii), and crews were battling a total of six fires, with three simultaneously torching Maui. Other Maui communities affected by the fires include the Kihei area and inland communities known as Upcountry. Firefighting crews continued to extinguish flare-ups in Lahaina and Upcountry into the evening Aug. 12, and the Pulehu/Kihei area fire was declared 100% contained to avoid further spread of the flames. “We can only imagine the distress and heartache that many are currently experiencing from the destructive wildfires on Maui, and our thoughts and prayers are with everyone impacted,” said a statement posted on the website of Catholic Charities Hawai’i, which urged people to make a donation to the agency for Maui relief at catholiccharitieshawaii.org/maui-relief. On Aug. 10, President Joe Biden issued a federal disaster declaration for Maui and the Big Island, ordering “all available federal assets on the Islands to help with response.”

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