Christians respond to devastating Hawaii fires

Drone footage showed the extent of the devastation in Lahaina, Hawaii, after the fires.(Photo: Javier Cantellops/Storyful)

(CP) The Christian humanitarian group World Help is focusing its efforts on helping Maui residents displaced by the wildfires that ripped through the Hawaiian island and claimed the lives of at least 55 people in Lahaina, and destroyed hundreds of homes and businesses.

World Help is "working with local partners on the ground to assess the greatest areas of additional need" and "will offer aid through partners already working in the Lahaina, Hawaii, area," the organization said in a statement shared with The Christian Post.

World Help President Noel Brewer Yeatts added: "Maui has been absolutely devastated by these wildfires. Our partners in Lahaina tell us that there is very little left standing and that it looks like a war zone. So many people have lost everything — their homes, and their livelihoods."

"It's going to take years to heal and rebuild, and World Help wants to do our part so that families and communities can begin that healing process," he added.

World Help has posted a donation page specifically to benefit the victims of the Maui wildfires.

The wildfires began on Aug. 8, being fueled by a mixture of a dry summer season and winds from a hurricane that went near the Hawaiian island.

Maui County officials reported on Wednesday that there had been 36 confirmed deaths; another 17 deaths were confirmed on Thursday afternoon, followed by two more by the end of the day, and an additional two deaths on Friday, bringing the death toll to at least 55.

According to a county update posted in the predawn hours of Friday, firefighters continue to battle fires and "flare-ups" in Lahaina, Pulehu and Kihei, and Upcountry Maui.

"The firefighting effort was bolstered by 21 firefighters from the Honolulu Fire Department, seven supervisory personnel and four vehicles. A nine-member search-and-rescue team also arrived on [the] island," noted county officials.

"Visitors wanting to leave Maui are asked to book a flight with an airline. Travelers can book flights to Honolulu, then continue on another flight to the mainland."

On Thursday, President Joe Biden approved Hawaii's disaster declaration request, making federal funding available for those impacted by the fires.

"Assistance can include grants for temporary housing and home repairs, low-cost loans to cover uninsured property losses, and other programs to help individuals and business owners recover from the effects of the disaster," explained the White House.

"Federal funding also is available to state and eligible local governments and certain private nonprofit organizations on a cost-sharing basis for debris removal and emergency protective measures in Maui County, and assistance for emergency protective measures for Hawaii County."

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