Maui Fire Lawyers – Hundreds of Millions in Private Funding Headed to Survivors

GEORGE F. LEE / GLEE@STARADVERTISER.COM Kukui Keahi, second from left, greeted clients identified as Auntie Noni, second from right, and Auntie Ti, right, as they sought assistance Thursday at the Kako‘o Maui Resource Hub in Kahului. Red Cross volunteer Richard Puffer, left, started paperwork for the two.

GEORGE F. LEE / GLEE@STARADVERTISER.COM

Kukui Keahi, second from left, greeted clients identified as Auntie Noni, second from right, and Auntie Ti, right, as they sought assistance Thursday at the Kako‘o Maui Resource Hub in Kahului. Red Cross volunteer Richard Puffer, left, started paperwork for the two.

Upward of $200 million has been raised by five of the top sources of private donations and their affiliates for Maui wildfire victims, with charitable funds coming from hundreds of thousands of donors in Hawaii and across the globe.

Government funding has been significant, with FEMA reporting last week that more than $103 million has been approved for more than 5,500 households. However, private funding also has an important role to play in Maui’s recovery.

Fallout from the Lahaina town fire that killed at least 97 people, destroyed some 2,200 homes and contributed to thousands of jobs losses is rapidly unfolding — and private charities are often better positioned to respond quickly as they have greater flexibility than government sources on how they can distribute money.

HCF CEO and President Micah Kane said, “This is definitely going to be a long haul — the resources that come in are not just for immediate relief but for the future phases of the disaster and phases of recovery.”

Kane said so far the fund has distributed $18.5 million to 103 grantees. He said HCF’s disaster response is in four phases, including risk reduction and disaster readiness, rapid relief and response, recovery and stabilization, and rebuilding resilience.

“When these disasters hit, you want to flush the system with as much resources as you can so you get as much depth as you can,” he said. “Usually about 20%-25% of the funds go out in the first two phases. You want to preserve 75%-80% for the future recovery. As we start to move forward, (we) can start to refine your strategy with a lot more context and use of data.”

ANOTHER SIGNIFICANT private source of support since the Maui wildfires has been the Maui United Way, which has raised more than $15 million to date from more than 50,000 donors. More than $5 million of that already has been sent to fire survivors for emergency financial assistance, and vetting is ongoing to distribute another $2 million.

Aloha United Way also has established a Maui Relief Fund to benefit the Maui United Way, and as of Sept. 6 has raised more than $2.3 million, of which $2 million already has been distributed.

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