Maui fires grassroots relief hub reaches out to Minnesota for help with continued aid

Maui fires grassroots relief hub reaches out to Minnesota for help with continued aid

Maui fires grassroots relief hub reaches out to Minnesota for help with continued aid

In a public park about 4 miles north of the destruction in the town of Lahaina in Maui, Hawaii, at least a couple hundred people who lost everything have relied daily on a grassroots community relief effort.

The need has continued to be so great, according to Pohaku S-Turns Community Relief Hub volunteer Scott Kirby, that they’ve reached all the way up to Minnesota for aid.

“People come in, they check in here,” Kirby said as he showed 5 EYEWITNESS NEWS around the community hub via Zoom around 8:30 a.m. local time.

“The cars start to line up, check in and they give us a list. And we are like a grocery store, we put stuff in their cart,” he said, adding, “So even though the grocery stores are open, gasoline stations are open, they don’t have any money to buy anything.”

“We’re ready. Anybody needs anything? We got you,” said Kirby’s partner in the relief effort, Alika Peneku.

The pair, who were instrumental in setting up the Pohaku S-Turns Community Relief Hub on day one of the natural disaster, lost their livelihoods too.

Kirby’s surf shop and Peneku’s shop, where he stores all of his equipment and vehicles for his work as a contractor, were both reduced to rubble.

“Everything in Lahaina was completely destroyed, like ashes,” Kirby said.

The pair was thankful, though, to still have their homes, “and our lives,” Kirby said.

“And the ability to help the ones that really need it,” Peneku added.

His truck was loaded with supplies to distribute the first night, he said.

“All of our electricity and stuff went off. I had a fridge full of food, and so did a couple of buddies. And we’re like, ‘You know what, let’s go.’ Instead of letting this stuff go to waste, let’s go make hot food and serve it to the people,” Peneku recalled. “By the next morning, we were a full-blown hub with so many donations from friends and family and the community. It was destined to be.”

Since, Kirby estimates they’ve brought in three tons of privately-funded, donated supplies, including food, water, 4,000 gallons of gas and more, all flown or boated in by friends, family and other volunteers.

“We created like a, you know, human chain that carries supplies: water, gas, propane, food, pampers, dog food, cat food,” Peneku listed.

“Our chef is preparing hot meals for everybody,” Kirby said, continuing the tour of the hub. “He’s actually a Minnesota Vikings fan. That’s why I have my purple shirt on.”

Volunteer doctors, like Dr. Shiloh Smith from Colorado, have given their time as well.

“She has donated her time for free to come and help us. What, you’ve been here a week? 10 days or more?” Kirby asked Dr. Smith.

She replied, “I don’t know how long I’ve been here anymore.”

Outside help has been scarce and delayed in a community that will take years to rebuild, Kirby and Peneku said, adding, FEMA’s one-time immediate payment of $700 for critical needs assistance has barely scratched the surface of the need.

“These are multi-generational families with, per household, 6, 8, 10 people,” Kirby explained. “So these guys are getting $50, $60, $80, $100 to compensate the loss of their household. And that is it so far.”

“To be frankly honest with you, I don’t even know what the next step into rebuilding is,” Peneku continued. “And I try not to even get to the point where I think about that, because I’m like, ‘one day at a time.'”

“We’re living day by day,” Kirby echoed, with Alika adding once more, “One day at a time.”

Kirby and Peneku plan to keep the effort going for the foreseeable future. They’ve set up a GoFundMe account that they’ve shared with 5 EYEWITNESS NEWS in hopes of helping their neighbors or as long as necessary.

Click here if you’d like to donate to the cause.