Rural News

Jennifer Emerling / There Is More Work To Be Done

August 2023 Maui Fire Rural Response Guide

Dry grasses and strong winds contributed to one of the country’s deadliest wildfires breaking out in Lāhainā, Hawaii on August 8th. Almost 2000 people are without electricity and over 10,000 are without phone and internet. The administration issued a major disaster declaration on August 10th to release more than $8.5 million in aid to the affected families. As of August 22nd, 115 people have been confirmed dead and over 800 are missing. Response teams are on the ground and the disaster area is still being searched.


HAC offers the following resources with information for organizations and communities dealing with loss and damage resulting from wildfires: Rural Resilience in the Face of Disaster site and Disaster Response for Rural Communities Guide.

County of Maui, Hawaii Wildfire Resources

Disaster Assistance Improvement Program (DAIP)

Individuals and business owners who sustained losses in the designated area can begin applying for assistance by registering online at or by calling 1-800-621- 3362 or 1-800- 462-7585 TTY. The toll-free telephone numbers will operate from 7:00 a.m. to 10:00 p.m. seven days a week until further notice.

Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA)

If federal assistance becomes available for residents affected by the fires, to apply you must complete a multi-purpose application online at

Toll-free helpline: 1-800-621-FEMA (3362)

For hearing impaired callers only:  1-800-462-7585 (TTY)

1-800-621-3362 (Video Relay Service)

For information and resources specific to Hawaii, visit

If you are in need of emergency, transient housing, you can text SHELTER and your Zip Code to 43362 (4FEMA) to find where the shelter closest to you is located.

American Red Cross Disaster Service

For referrals and updates on Red Cross shelter services in your area, locate a local Red Cross office through: or by calling 1-800-RED CROSS (1-800-733-2767).

The Red Cross helps disaster victims by providing safe shelter, hot meals, essential relief supplies, emotional support and health services like first aid. Trained Red Cross workers often meet one-on-one with families to develop individual plans and identify available resources to help aid recovery.

Hawaii Emergency Management Agency

200 S High St

Kalana O Maui Bldg, 1st Fl

Wailuku, HI 96793

Phone: (808) 270-7285

Fax: (808) 270-7275

U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD)

HUD offers a Disaster Recovery Toolkit and makes other related resources available:

HUD State Office

Honolulu Field Office

1003 Bishop Street

Suite 2100

Honolulu, HI 96813-6463

(808) 457-4662

Fax: (808) 457-4694

Field Office Director: Ryan T. Okahara

USDA-Rural Development

To determine whether USDA has specific assistance available for fire survivors who had USDA Rural Development assistance before the fires, check for information online at

Hawaii and Western Pacific USDA RD State Office

Phone: (808) 933-8380

  • State Director’s Office: (808) 291-2058
  • Business Programs: (808) 933-8323
  • Community Programs: (808) 933-8308
  • Housing Programs: (808) 933-8300

State Housing Agency

Each state has at least one agency that administers state and federal programs to promote decent affordable housing for low-income individuals. Typically, these agencies and authorities administer some aspects of state or federal programs.

Maui County Housing Division

Section 8 Rental Assistance Program

Phone: 808-270-7751

Fax: 808-270-7829


Evacuating and Returning Home

The Red Cross website provides suggestions on actions to prepare for evacuation and returning home after a fire.

IF A FIRE OCCURS Listen to your local media for updates on the fire and be ready to leave quickly. Back your car into the garage or park it in an open space facing your direction of escape. You should also:

  • Keep your pets in one room so you can find them quickly if you have to evacuate.
  • Arrange for a temporary place to stay outside the threatened area.
  • Keep your indoor air clean – close windows and doors to prevent the smoke outside from getting in your home.
  • Use the recycle mode on the air conditioner in your home or car. If you don’t have air conditioning and it’s too hot to be inside, seek shelter somewhere else.
  • If smoke levels are high, don’t use anything that burns and adds to air pollution inside such as candles, fireplaces and gas stoves.

AFTER THE FIRE Don’t go home until fire officials say it is safe. Be cautious entering a burned area – hazards could still exist. Avoid damaged or downed power lines, poles and wires. Other things to do include:

  • Keep your animals under your direct control. Hidden embers and hot spots could burn them.
  • Wet down debris to minimize breathing dust particles.
  • Wear leather gloves and shoes with heavy soles.
  • Throw out any food that has been exposed to heat, smoke or soot.
  • Recheck for smoke or sparks throughout your home for several hours after the fire, including in your attic. Wildfire winds can blow burning embers anywhere so check for embers that could cause a fire.

If your home has experienced damage, remember to check the outside of your home before you enter. Look for loose power lines, broken or damaged gas lines, foundations cracks, missing support beams, or other damage. It may be safest to ask a building inspector of contractor to check the structure before you enter. Do not force jammed doors open, as they may be providing needed support to the rest of the home. Sniff for gas to ensure there are no natural or propane gas leaks. If you do have a propane tank system, make sure to turn off all valves and contact a propane supplier to check the system before you use it again. Check floors and ceilings to ensure they are not sagging from water damage; this can be especially hazardous. Take photographs of any damage as you may need them for insurance claims or FEMA claims later on.