Operation Blessing-YWAM Join to Aid Maui Fire Victims: Generators, Gas Grills, Tents, Water Purifiers
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Relief efforts are underway on the island of Maui in the aftermath of last week's deadly and devastating fire.
One official fears the death toll could reach into the hundreds. As the community looks for help, aid agencies like CBN's Operation Blessing are ramping up their efforts to assist in this time of need.
As the search for survivors continues, some residents are testifying how one left turn, while escaping the burning inferno a week ago, may have just saved their lives.
"I just said, 'Lord, direct our steps', and my husband turned left, and I am so thankful he did," exclaimed Shalia Keahi, a Maui evacuee.
Dana Lucio, a licensed crisis care counselor who flew in from Oahu, knows there will be a lot of emotional struggles as survivors begin to deal with the trauma of what lies ahead.
"A lot of them are still experiencing some stress and some shock factor," Lucio said. "Our goal is to just allow them to process what they're experiencing."
So far, 106 people are known to be dead. Hundreds are still unaccounted for. Maui officials are beginning the painful task of identifying the dead, urging more survivors to provide DNA samples so they can account for those who didn't make it.
President Biden is expected to visit on Monday, as FEMA and other agencies ramp up relief efforts.
On the Big Island of Hawaii, Operation Blessing, teaming with Youth with a Mission (YWAM), is focused on getting long-term supply items to those affected in Maui.
"Things like generators, gas grills, tents, tarps and ropes and various pieces of clothing, diapers, flashlights and batteries," said David Wright, Operation Blessing's senior deployment manager.
With officials warning Maui residents not to drink tap water in certain parts of the island, Operation Blessing purchased water purification packs that will pump fresh water.
"This machine will give a thousand people a day drinking water if you run it around the clock," said one of the experts in charge of the purification packs.
At a YWAM warehouse in Kona, relief supplies are being sorted, packed and readied for shipment.
"So the supplies are getting over to the island by every type of creative means you can think of," said Christophe Ulysse with YWAM.
YWAM, which has had a base here in Kona for the last 50 years, is tapping their extensive network of churches and para-church groups to get the most urgent items quickly to the folks in Maui.
"Initially what we are doing is mobilizing through our different friends, because of YWAM, we work inter-denominationally across the Body of Christ and cross-culturally," said Ulysse.
And the Mercy Chefs ministry is also joining the relief effort to provide meals for survivors of the devastation.
We went house to house to find anyone left in need of a hot meal. For every nine houses that were empty, we’d find one hungry soul. After handing out a chef-prepared dinner, Chef John Thompson prayed over each person we met. pic.twitter.com/DyWmr1kenk— Mercy Chefs (@MercyChefs) August 15, 2023
Meanwhile, in Lahaina, survivors of last week's deadly fire, many of whom lost everything, are doing what they can to help each other with donations.
"I consider myself a strong leader, but it broke me. It still breaks me," said Lahaina resident Kanamu Balinbin. "This is what keeps me going, helping people."
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