I've arrived in the town of Lahaina in Maui, getting into the area a little before midnight. The part of the town that I'm in, as you can tell from my report, was not burnt. In fact, it's been turned into something like a large first aid stop and food bank. There's medics, an area for pets that need assistance and an area for charging batteries along with a Starlink internet connection.
As you know, our team is here in Maui asking basic questions: What happened? Is there anything we can learn? How are the authorities handling the situation? What are the locals saying?
Over the years we've learned that sometimes what officials say in statements is different than what the ordinary people on the ground are feeling and experiencing, different from what those suffering need.
I hate to say it, but this fire in Lahaina reminds me of Ground Zero in the aftermath of the 9/11 terror attacks on the World Trade Center. Right now, the authorities don't know how many bodies will be recovered — it's surely going to be in the hundreds. The remains will be difficult to identify in many ways because of the fire.
And for a small community like here in Maui, that is an enormous blow.
Obviously that was a terrorist attack; there was an enormous amount of evil and malice behind it. This was a natural tragedy. It may have been made worse by human error or bad decisions.
For example, the decision not to issue a warning through the island's siren system or strange woke policies regarding the equitable use of water.
I spoke to some folks here in the area and even though they are personally not injured, you can see their heart is wounded. A terrible thing has happened to their community.
A popular topic for social media discussions about the fire has been police not allowing people through checkpoints. I managed to convince police to let us through one in one area, but there are many areas that are locked down here.
I don't think the internet rumours about this being a form of censorship are true. I think it's because of the bodies that have not yet been properly attended to. And also, at night time, if you're not a resident of the area — what is your purpose for being in some of these communities?
So, I'm not against these police roadblocks, and I genuinely believe this is not about censorship. I think, again, to use the 9/11 analogy, that this is about controlling access to an area and making sure there aren't busybodies, marauders, looters or people there for other untoward purposes.
That's not to say there isn't anything strange about this fire. President Joe Biden's first comments about Maui were bizarre, saying he had “no comment.” Not even a cursory thoughts and prayers, and he refused to comment for days.
Maybe it was better for him to say no comment, unlike that local politician talking about expropriating the land and using it for government purposes. Frankly, that's straight out of the conspiracy theories online — just an atrocious thing to say.
In spite of all the tragedy here, there have been great acts of charity. People not just personally offering their own volunteer time, but wealthy people are helping out too.
My main purpose was to bring our reporters, Alexa Lavoie and Lincoln Jay, a Starlink connection since internet access has been difficult. Keep following along with our coverage at TheTruthAboutMaui.com.
Alexa and Lincoln will be here for when Biden arrives to deliver his remarks, and we'll hear what the locals think of the president's response.
Stay tuned for more. And if you want to make a donation to charity, we initially recommended the Red Cross but a lot of people said there were better charities. One we can comfortably suggest making a donation to is Glenn Beck's Mercury One Hawaii Wildfire Relief fund as an alternative.
You can help us cover the costs of our independent journalism at TheTruthAboutMaui.com.