Huge water tanks are helping these Lahaina residents stay in their homes

It could be months before the remaining homes in the Lahaina burn zone will have power and running water.
Published: Sep. 14, 2023 at 4:51 PM HST|Updated: Sep. 14, 2023 at 5:07 PM HST
Email This Link
Share on Pinterest
Share on LinkedIn

HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - It could be months before water and power are fully restored on Maui. But there is a lifeline and it comes in the form of 400-gallon water tanks.

The military brought in these so-called water buffalos to aid residents.

There’s one serving Kahoma Village near Front Street and the Lahaina Cannery Mall.

Resident Del La Fountain said he came back home the morning after the Lahaina fire and found his home still standing — even as the surrounding community burned.

“We were very lucky. We have 220 homes in this neighborhood, 24 townhomes and one normal home burnt. We did really well, for being on Front Street. It was kind of a miracle,” he said.

“We don’t have power, and we don’t have water. But there’s a few of us here that are living, back moved in and making things work.”

Christopher Fishback, a fuel and water platoon leader with the U.S. Army, said the water buffalos are being refilled regularly.

The military joint task force responding to the Maui wildfires is setting up three distribution points:

  • Leialii Parkway & Hooli Street
  • Lahainaluna Road & Lahaina Bypass
  • Puunoa Place & Kahoma Vally Loop

“We were having to run around and to different places and try to gather water,” La Fountain said.

“And we finally came across some five gallon containers. And having this right here in my neighborhood is huge.”

About 10,000 gallons of water has been distributed so far.

The tanks are usually filled at 9 a.m. and 4 p.m.

“Just use the water, we’re out here everyday, filling up as needed, so use the water, drink it,” Fishback said.

La Fountain says the water brings comfort to the handful of residents who are back home.

“We have a generator. Now we have a Starlink. Now we’ve got water now. It’s like glamping,” he said.

When asked how he stays positive in a devastating situation, La Fountain said he’s been through some pretty bad fires, including one in Tahoe that burned 100,000 acres.

Still, he adds that this fire is different.

“So much stuff was lost so much historic stuff. And I don’t think you can put that into a scale and compare it to anybody else. I mean, this is a huge disaster,” he said.

Military officials say the water tanks will be available as long as they’re needed.