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  • Writer's pictureIkaika Foundation

FIRE

It's August 8th, 2023, 4:45 p.m. It is one of the windiest days I have ever experienced since moving here 6 years ago.


I am working in my home hair salon on my friends' son's hair. My salon is inside my garage, fully air conditioned, and in a way, separate from the outside world with one door out to the side and tall garage windows that keep you from seeing anything out front. We went along with our appointment as usual, talking and laughing, not knowing the horror that was soon to come that evening.


It was the end of the appointment and I walked them out through my home, opened the front door and was overtaken by the smell of FIRE. We both sort of panicked realizing that the fire had most likely started in North Kihei, as it usually does...and realizing that the smell was closer than what we were comfortable with. She headed home and we turned on the news, hoping to find some type of update on the status of the fire and to get an idea of how close it might be...no news.


I asked my husband, Kama, to grab the keys to the car. I grabbed my daughter, got in our SUV and headed North.

It was starting to get dark and we could see a glow up the mauka (mountain) side of the highway. We have several friends in that area so we called each of them to make sure they knew how close the flames were to their homes, and to make sure they could evacuate in time. We watched the fire from an apartment complex nearby and assessed how fast it seemed to be moving.

Too fast for our comfort. We headed home and started to collect our important things that we would have to take in case we were evacuated.


Around 7:30 pm we started to get notifications that we should evacuate through TV announcements. We kept driving out towards the highway to catch a glimpse of just how close the fire was. We decided to stay put in our home, as our daughter had gone to bed and we were ready to leave if need be. We got another update around 9:30pm that we no longer needed to evacuate in our specific neighborhood, although it was confusing to know what was being suggested or not.


All night, I was up, watching the news, seeing the devastation of just some images of Lahaina, but still not quite grasping the severity of the fire and how much damage and lives it took.


5:30 AM...Ash was all over our house, our yard, our cars. The wind was still strong and gusts were blowing through our neighborhood like a hurricane. I knew things got worse, and I had no idea how bad it would be.


Instagram and the news were reporting photos and videos of the horror of what took place in the evening in Lahaina and in Kula.


Our close friend lost their childhood home in Kula and we were discovering more and more people we knew upcountry and in Lahaina that lost their homes or loved ones.


Kama had a flight on the morning of August 9th. He would be gone for a few days and I was focused on helping however I could that day after dropping him at the airport. I dropped off whatever supplies we had in the house to a local hub; diapers, wipes, water, food. A good friend from California called me and asked how they could help. They saw the images online and on national news and wanted their money to go straight to the source as soon as possible. They suggested that they could send donations through my Venmo in order for me to be able to buy supplies and deliver them directly to the victims. I agreed, they sent over $1,000 and that was the start of something truly incredible. I posted a photo on Instagram and Facebook of the supplies I purchased with their donation and in a matter of 5 days I raised over $30,000 and the intention of Ikaika Foundation was put into place.



Ikaika is the thread through the names of our local businesses that my husband and I own; Ikaika Construction & Ikaika Cabinets. "Ikaika," meaning strength was the perfect name for the foundation we wanted to create to be able to continue our efforts for the long haul through this tragedy. We have been overwhelmed with gratitude for the amount of donors we have had and the donations keep rolling in. I am so proud to be apart of this community and I look forward to continuing to help as many as we can during the rebuild of our upcountry and Lahaina town.







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