'So hopeless': Bay Area families still at risk amid Maui wildfires

Dustin Dorsey Image
Friday, August 11, 2023
'So hopeless': Bay Area families still at risk amid Maui wildfires
Many Bay Area families are still at risk amid the deadly wildfires still burning in Maui.

MAUI, Hawaii (KGO) -- As the smoke settles on Maui, the community is taking into account what has been lost.

Not only the community's history was lost in Lahaina, but dozens of lives lost due to the fires. And there are many more people still missing, like San Leandro resident Bill McLaughlin's son.

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"I'm not sure what I can do," McLaughlin said.

His 33-year-old son, Brandon, who lives with special needs, resides on Maui with his mother. McLaughlin hasn't heard from either in days.

"Brandon needs special medications and I'm concerned that the pharmacy is no longer there," McLaughlin said. "I was able, very briefly, to get ahold of Brandon's aid. His house is gone, he's homeless right now. He was at their house the night before but hasn't heard from them or has been able to get in touch with them since then."

PHOTOS: Heartbreaking images show devastation from Maui wildfires

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A man takes photos of burnt out cars lining the sea wall after the wildfire on Friday, Aug. 11, 2023, in Lahaina, Hawaii.
AP Photo/Rick Bowmer

Fairfield's Debbie Rawdon is in a similar helpless position with her two granddaughters and son. But she knows where they are.

"They are stranded," Debbie Rawdon said.

After leaving their hotel Tuesday, Debbie's son, John Rawdon, and his girls have been stuck sleeping on the side of the road - southeast of Lahaina at a traffic stop.

They're trying to return to their resort to get their luggage, including essential medication, so they can get off the island.

"The local EMS services are just not giving any information," John Rawdon said. "We have no clue of what's going on, what we're supposed to be doing or where we're supposed to be."

MORE: Lahaina residents show new video of destruction, describe their escape from flames

Two Lahaina locals share their harrowing escape from the Maui wildfires and the realization that their homes are gone.

A similar sense of despair is felt by Berkeley's Patrick Landeza, but in a different way. His family has deep roots in Maui.

"Here on the mainland, we feel so hopeless because we know that our family and friends are there and we suffer right alongside with them," Landeza said.

But Landeza says all is not lost. The historic banyan tree was scorched, but still stands after the fires.

He hopes it can be a symbol of perseverance to those suffering as the recovery process begins.

"That tree stands, we will continue to stand and we will stand with our Maui brothers and sisters in any way to help with this devastating fire," Landeza said.

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