Chris Phillips escaped the #MauiFires that devastated the historic city of Lahaina and made his way to a Red Cross shelter in Honolulu.
Credit: American Red Cross of Georgia via X

Volunteers from the American Red Cross of Georgia are in Hawaii as recovery efforts continue following devastating fires. So, far nearly 100 people are confirmed dead.

“This is the largest natural disaster we’ve ever experienced,” Hawaii Gov. Josh Green said over the weekend. “It’s going to also be a natural disaster that’s going to take an incredible amount of time to recover from.”

Seven disaster-trained volunteers from Georgia are working in temporary shelters providing evacuees a safe place to stay, food to eat and emotional support while preparing to expand relief efforts if needed. 

The biggest need right now is finding housing for all those displaced by the fires.

Volunteers are also assisting residents in reconnecting with displaced family members. 

Overall, 250 Red Cross volunteers are on the ground in Hawaii.  

What is now the deadliest wildfire in the past century has destroyed as many as 2,700 structures, most of which were homes, leaving thousands of residents without somewhere to live. While conditions are improving, there is still a danger as firefighters fight new flare-ups in Lahaina and several other areas.

First responders are still conducting search and rescue efforts, and only a small percentage of the burned area has been covered.

Most communities will not reopen until these efforts are completed.  More than 4,500 customers are still without electricity, and most phone services are also down. Where cell service is available, it is still limited and users are asked to text instead of calling.

Working 24/7 alongside partners, the American Red Cross is caring for families by providing them with a safe place to stay, food to eat and emotional support.

“Our work in Hawaii is just beginning,” the organization said in a press release:

  • In coordination with the county government, trained Red Cross disaster workers are supporting emergency shelters on the islands of Maui and Oahu.
  • Since the fires began, the Red Cross and partners have provided more than 3,600 overnight shelter stays for people seeking refuge in 11 emergency shelters.
  • More than 250 trained Red Cross disaster workers — from Maui, other Hawaiian islands and all corners of the country — are helping now with more on their way. Disaster workers are also virtually helping people affected by the fires.
  • Recovering from a wildfire of this magnitude will take time and the full response community coming together to support survivors.
  • For those unable to locate or connect with a loved one who has been impacted by a recent disaster, please call 1-800 RED CROSS (1-800-733-2767) and select Option 4. Follow the voice prompts for “Hawaii Wildfires.” Provide as much detail as possible to assist us in potentially locating missing loved one. Please note call volume is high and callers may experience longer wait times.

This story comes to Rough Draft via a media partnership with GPB News.

Ellen Eldridge is a health care reporter for Georgia Public Broadcasting.