On November 1, almost all of West Maui reopened to tourists after this summer’s brutal wildfires. The fires shook the tourist island, and 97 people died in the fires, which were the deadliest in the United States in more than 100 years.
The fire swept across wide swaths of land and at least 2,700 buildings were destroyed in Lahaina, many of which were historic landmarks, NTB wrote.
The decision to reopen was met with skepticism by many on the island who were still struggling in the wake of the tragedy.
– A significant increase
The local health care system and residents say they feel the island is in the midst of an unprecedented mental health crisis NBC News.
– We have seen a significant increase in the number of people needing counseling and support to address trauma, John Oliver, head of the mental health system on Maui, tells the channel.
The channel spoke about residents who described their prevailing feelings of anxiety and discomfort.
-You just have to move forward until you have time to process it. “Right now, you don’t have time, so you put it aside, and when you least expect it, it comes out and completely destroys you,” Lahaina resident Kekoa Lansford said.
Oliver says the number of people who will need help is expected to increase in the coming months. 6,808 Maui residents are still living in hotels as a result of fire damage.
We didn’t have time to process what we went through. It takes time, and my concern is that if we don’t get that time, the trauma will resurface in a different form, says Lahaina resident Charles Nahalli. nbc.
– Show respect
But tourism is a very important source of income for the island, and county Mayor Richard Bessen has championed the reopening.
– I know we’re still sad and it seems very early, but the truth is that there are many in our local community ready to start working again. “Bills need to be paid, keiki (children) have needs, and kupuna (elderly) still need medical assistance,” Bissen said in a video message on his website. Instagram.
The New York Times State and local authorities, business leaders and residents said they want tourists who come to behave with awareness, consideration and respect, he writes.
They also ask that Lahaina, the city hardest hit by the fire, not be part of the tourist stop on the island and that guests remember that the Maui community has been traumatized and is still grieving.
– You have to have the right attitude and show respect for the place and for the people who live and work on Maui, Mofi Hanneman, president of the Hawaii Tourism Association, tells the newspaper.
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