Wildfires connect her hometown and her adopted home, but so does aloha

Nearly 7,000 evacuees from the West Maui wildfires are still living in hotels.
Published: Nov. 9, 2023 at 4:46 PM HST|Updated: Nov. 11, 2023 at 3:20 AM HST
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PARADISE, Calif (HawaiiNewsNow) - April Kelly was born in Paradise, Calf. She made Lahaina her second hometown. Her love for both communities hasn’t wavered.

That’s even in the wake of devastating wildfires.

First, in 2018, a blaze destroyed Paradise. Then flames claimed Lahaina.

LESSONS FROM PARADISE: As part of this special series, HNN’s Jonathan Masaki traveled to Paradise, Calif. to look at how they’re still recovering from a catastrophic fire five years ago.

“It’s been hard to have this happen in Maui and to have gone through this in Paradise,” Kelly said.

But Kelly is trying to put her unique experience to work.

In the wake of the blaze in Lahaina, she immediately began organizing fundraising events to benefit her hanai ohana and the people on Maui.

“That’s aloha, right? When you are doing something for somebody even when it doesn’t benefit you and even when you are having a hard time, that’s what the essence of aloha is,” Kelly said.

She has also been a listening ear to the many who have called her.

For the most part, she just listens and offers gentle words of advice

“This is a very long road so take your time in making any decisions and really give yourself time to go through the emotions and be easy on yourself,” she said.

Kelly is now the manager of Nic’s Deli and Wine Bar in Paradise.

She and owner Nicky Jones know a little about helping a community recover. Together, they opened for business just five days after Camp Fire gutted Paradise.

Also in this series:

“We wanted to be here for the community. so we have been and we still are,” Jones said.

Together, they have forged a bond knowing what they know — and continued to support and encourage everyone affected by the deadly fires on the Valley isle and in Paradise.

“You will get through it,” Jones said.

“There will be ups and downs. It’s not going to be a fast process but the support of your own of your own community members will sustain you through that and I think that it very critical.”

True words of wisdom from the voices of experience, from the town of Paradise to an island Paradise in the middle of the Pacific.