Amid the devastation in Lahaina, something unexpected: Symbols of hope

Recovery efforts continue on Maui as the death toll climbs to 101 fatalities.
Published: Aug. 16, 2023 at 4:23 PM HST|Updated: Aug. 16, 2023 at 4:52 PM HST
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LAHAINA (HawaiiNewsNow) - More than a week after the deadliest wildfire in more than a century ripped through this community, you can still smell the smoke in the air.

But driving into historic Lahaina, you’ll also see symbols of hope.

There are signs on the tunnel saying “Lahaina strong.”

And while the damage is devastating, the people say they’re determined to persevere.

“Right here is disaster. Right here is where many people were lost,” said Lahaina resident Archie Kalepa. “What we’re trying to do is we’re trying to hold the line but we want to do it safely.”

At Kalepa’s home, donations are piling in for his community.

He says they have everything they need right now, but need help in the long-run to heal and rebuild.

‘It was raining fire’: Family of 15 that escaped Lahaina wildfire finds refuge on Oahu

And Kalepa says he’s also focused on what survived the fire.

The oldest school west of the Rocky Mountains, Lahainaluna High School, is still standing. Lahaina’s Hawaiian Homestead, Leiali’i, also is still standing.

And perhaps most important of all, he said, the resolve of Lahaina’s residents isn’t going anywhere.