LOCAL NEWS

Church of Jesus Christ meetinghouses serving as shelters for Maui fire victims

Aug 10, 2023, 8:31 PM | Updated: 8:46 pm

A wildfire burns in Kihei, Hawaii, late Wednesday. Meetinghouses for The church of Jesus Christ of ...

A wildfire burns in Kihei, Hawaii, late Wednesday. Meetinghouses for The church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints are are being used as evacuation shelters for victims there. (Ty O'Neil, Associated Press)

(Ty O'Neil, Associated Press)

MAUI, Hawaii — Meetinghouses for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints are being used as evacuation shelters for victims displaced by the devastating wildfires on Maui.

The Church News announced Thursday that church stake centers are being used as shelters for the many families in the community who have had to evacuate. The Kahului Hawaii West Stake Center, alone, is housing hundreds of people.

“While the fires have damaged or destroyed hundreds of homes, the church’s chapels in Lahaina appear to be undamaged,” the Church News said.

Elder Mark A. Bragg, general authority seventy and president of the church’s North America West Area, said all missionaries on the island are safe and accounted for.

“As an area presidency, we are grateful for the kindness and generosity of the saints on Maui who have provided food, water, clothing and shelter for those in the community who have been impacted,” Elder Bragg said, according to Church News.

Elder Bragg said Latter-day Saints on Maui are already planning how to marshal resources for the massive cleanup and restoration efforts that will be needed once the fires are extinguished.

“There is an island spirit of aloha that naturally prompts people to reach out and bless others. We have seen this since the very start of the firestorm,” he said.

At least 36 people have been killed in the fires. A flyover of historic Lahaina Thursday showed entire neighborhoods that had been a vibrant vision of color and island life reduced to gray ash. Block after block was nothing but rubble and blackened foundations, including along famous Front Street, where tourists shopped and dined just days ago, according to the Associated Press.

Boats in the harbor were scorched and smoke hovered over the town, which dates to the 1700s and is the biggest community on the island’s west side.

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Church of Jesus Christ meetinghouses serving as shelters for Maui fire victims