Red Cross: Fire evacuees won’t be kicked out as West Maui fully reopens to tourism

Published: Oct. 30, 2023 at 3:49 PM HST|Updated: Oct. 31, 2023 at 1:37 AM HST
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HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - As West Maui prepares to fully open to tourists on Wednesday, the American Red Cross is assuring people that no one staying in hotels under their program will be evicted.

The Red Cross operates its non-congregate shelter program or NCS under a contract with the state.

Its CEO told Hawaii News Now displaced residents may have to move to a different hotel and they’ll get advanced notice, but no one is getting kicked out without a place to stay.

Diane Peters-Nguyen, CEO of the American Red Cross-Pacific Islands Region, told Hawaii News Now that people staying in hotels under the Red Cross program will be able to stay past the holidays.

“Red Cross has committed to continue this program with our shelter guests at the hotels, at least through February,” said Peters-Nguyen.

“We don’t believe that the full opening, the accelerated opening of West Maui of the area will have any impact on the hotel sites that are non-congregate shelters and our families staying there. We believe there is plenty of room,” she added.

The Red Cross says its housing 6,700 people from 2,700 households in 36 hotels across Maui. The nonprofit has distributed over $22 million in aid.

“First in our immediate assistance program that was $11.3 million and then now over $11 million in our bridge program to folks who either they’re where they were living with either destroyed or had major damage or made uninhabitable.”

On Maui, there are 1,200 Red Cross volunteers. It’s hired 100 people from Maui and there are 70 open positions.

The Red Cross asks evacuees to check with their resident shelter worker every 48 hours. After some push back, Peters-Nguyen says it’s important to make sure people are okay.

“We had recently an elderly gentleman in one of the hotels, and he wasn’t responding. So finally, we sent someone up there to check and he was just really sick, he was too ill really even to answer his phone or anything like that,” she said.

“Part of it is just making sure everybody is okay and they still need our assistance,” she added.

The deadline to apply for the Red Cross Bridge Assistance Program for financial assistance is Nov. 9.