Maui Wildfires 2023, How Nurses Can Help

4 Min Read Published August 11, 2023
Maui Wildfires 2023, How Nurses Can Help

A historic wildfire is currently blazing across three islands in Maui, Hawaii, home to locals and wealthy celebrities alike. Currently, the death toll is 55 people who have lost their lives in Lahaina, which is western Maui, with more expected to be discovered. Hundreds of acres have been destroyed and some local people have described the scenes as “a warzone.”

The exact cause of the blaze is not known, but CBS reports that prolonged dry conditions, low humidity, and high temperatures set the stage as the perfect trifecta for a wildfire to start. Additionally, the flames were fanned by the powerful winds of Hurricane Dora, a storm that moved across the ocean south of the Hawaiian islands, CBS adds. 

Over 11,000 people have been evacuated and there have been reports of people jumping into the water to avoid being burned. The scenes and destruction are devastating, so if you are looking for a way to help with the Maui wildfire, here are some suggestions. 

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How Nurses Can Help with the Maui Wildfires

According to The Washington Post, Hawaii’s Gov. Josh Green (D) has urged people to leave and stay away from Hawaii, explaining that the island cannot currently support anyone wanting to stay or live long-term. 

He urged anyone who had plans to travel to the islands anytime soon to cancel their plans, to free up housing for emergency workers and displaced locals. The Washington Post also listed a few other ways that people can help with the Maui wildfires, recommended by either Green or verified by the outlet.

Volunteer with the Red Cross

The Red Cross is an excellent way to help directly with wildfire efforts. You can apply to be a volunteer on their site and the Red Cross will select and match volunteers to areas in need. 

You can also apply to be part of the highest-priority efforts for Maui, which include positions with the disaster action team as well as blood donation teams. You can even volunteer to head up blood collection in an area local to you that will collect blood to send to patients in need. 

Donate blood

Blood is always needed and a disaster will only increase that need, so find a local Red Cross blood donation near you to donate. You can even register with the blood donation app so you’ll get notified when your blood is used on a real patient. 

Help with patients—but not in Hawaii

While it may be tempting as a nurse to want to jump right into the thick of the action in Maui, the unfortunate reality is that a rush of volunteers or nurses may not be all that helpful to a place that’s on fire. Instead, local healthcare workers explain that it’s vital to get patients in need of care out of Maui, so hospitals that will be accepting transfers will be where help is needed—not necessarily in Maui itself. 

Browse GoFundMes

The Washington Post included a list of verified GoFundMes, but you can also browse specific GoFundMes if you have something specific in mind to donate to. For instance, one fundraiser claims to be helping travel nurses who were displaced as a result of the fires

Donate to the Hawaii Community Foundation

You can donate a set or custom amount online or mail a check directly to the foundation. Currently, the HCF says it is prioritizing nonprofit organizations that are supporting community-based rapid response and recovery efforts. 

“Funding will support evolving needs, including shelter, food, financial assistance, and other services as identified by our partners doing critical work on Maui,” the Foundation explains. 

Donate to the Maui Mutual Aid Fund

This organization Maui families, elderly residents, individuals with disabilities, and people who have either no health insurance at all or limited coverage. 

Donate to the Maui Relief Fund 

The Maui Relief Fund was started by Aloha United Way, a Honolulu-based nonprofit organization. It says all of its efforts are currently working towards helping fire victims. 

Donate to The Salvation Army’s Hawaiian and Pacific Islands Division

The Salvation Army in Hawaii is accepting donations to provide meals for thousands displaced in Maui emergency shelters

Donate to The Animal Rescue Site

Humans aren’t the only ones affected by the fire and this organization is working towards helping burned and displaced pets. The Greater Good Charities' Disaster Response Team is actively sending cash grants, pet food, and supplies to impacted communities as well as working to provide solutions to aid in the island's long-term recovery. 

Donate to the Maui Food Bank 

The food bank is working to provide meals for displaced residents, which number in the thousands.

Donate to the Maui Police Department

The local police department is accepting physical donations of nonperishable food, bottled water, hygiene items, and blankets to Maui’s War Memorial Complex, but you can also donate directly to the PD online as well. 

Follow the Maui County Emergency Management Agency for Updates

The Maui County Emergency Management Agency is active on Twitter with live updates about how people can help. It also posts resources for local people in need of help, such as an updated list of shelters with space and supplies. 

Chaunie Brusie
Chaunie Brusie Contributor

Chaunie Brusie, BSN, RN is a nurse-turned-writer with experience in critical care, long-term care, and labor and delivery. Her work has appeared everywhere from Glamor to The New York Times to The Washington Post. Chaunie lives with her husband and five kids in the middle of a hay field in Michigan and you can find more of her work here

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