Public, Private Sectors Move to Help in Maui Wildfire Aftermath

Image: Hawaii Department of Transportation.

As the community of Maui works to recover and rebuild following a deadly wildfire that killed at least 111 people earlier this month, members of both the public and private sectors have been working to provide relief.

Through Sept. 10, the Hawaii Department of Transportation is waiving wharfage fees for cargo coming to Kahului Harbor. That includes cargo types such as autos, island agricultural products and fuel.

“We have to offer any help we can at this time for the people of Maui,” Hawaii DOT Director Ed Sniffen said. “This will lessen the burden on shipping necessities to many who now have nothing. And we will continue to look at ways we can help the people of Lāhainā and west Maui as we move forward.”

For more on the waiver, visit

The transportation department also plans to waive port entry and dockage costs for vessels displaced from small boat harbors on Maui if berth space is available and for the duration of the governor’s emergency proclamation.

Meanwhile, the U.S. Coast Guard announced Aug. 14 that it’s moving its response focus toward curtailing the maritime environmental effects port-fires. Resources are heading to impacted sites, including a 100-foot boom installed at Lahaina Harbor to curb possible dangerous materials.

“While the Coast Guard is always postured for search and rescue operations, we are also focused on minimizing maritime environmental impacts as a result of the Maui fires,” said Cmdr. Kyra Dykeman, the deputy incident commander for the Coast Guard Maui fire response. “We reaffirm our unwavering commitment to the community we serve.”

A safety zone has been created between Wahikuli Wayside Park and Launiupoko Beach Park, extending one nautical mile seaward from the shore, according to USCG.

Also, Coast Guard divers from Regional Dive Locker Pacific are teaming with NOAA to use a Side-Scan Sonar and a Submersible Remote Operated Vehicle to chart the Lahaina Channel and coastline off Lahaina to spot navigational hazards in the channel post-fires.

The Coast Guard National Strike Force also landed in Maui to help.

For more information, contact (808) 723-0008. For emergency-related questions, contact the Maui Emergency Operations Center at (808) 205-9328.

In the private sector, companies are mobilizing to help those in need in Maui. Pasha Hawaii and Matson have prioritized emergency-related supplies and equipment to the area and are working to keep services uninterrupted, even adding services to keep goods flowing.

By Karen Robes Meeks