East Bay man loses contact with family in Hawaii amid Maui wildfires

ByRyan Curry KGO logo
Monday, August 14, 2023
East Bay man loses contact with family in Hawaii amid Maui wildfires
Bill McLaughlin hasn't slept in three days. He is eagerly awaiting an update from his family, who live near the fire-ravaged areas on Maui.

BENICIA, Calif. (KGO) -- Bill McLaughlin hasn't slept in three days. He is eagerly awaiting an update from his family. He says they live near the fire-ravaged areas in Hawaii.

"Haven't been sleeping and stressed out and worried of not being able to get ahold of anybody," he said.

McLaughlin says he spoke to them on Friday, and they were safe. They live in Kaanapali, next to the fire zone of Lahaina. He says the power is down in most of the area and, therefore, getting a hold of his family has been difficult. After Friday, he hasn't heard a word from them and knows of a fire that started in Kaanapali.

RELATED: Maui wildfire updates: Latest on devastating Hawaii fires that killed at least 96

"I really don't know what is going on," he said. "I am fairly certain they are OK, but there is a gnawing in the back of my head that something happened, and I don't know because I haven't talked to them."

The death toll as of Monday morning was 96. Others in the Bay Area are stepping up efforts to help those affected by the fires. Mia Livaudais is a professor of public health at Cal State East Bay and is from Maui. She says her family is safe but is currently helping house others whose homes have burned down.

"I am here in Oakland right now, but my heart and my mind are in Maui," she said. "I am asking others who have that same feeling to look at the local nonprofits there in Lahaina and donate to them."

She fears there could be massive longterm effects on that community.

RELATED: Bay Area dockworkers gathering donations to ship to Maui wildfire victims

"Existing health disparities, income disparities, education disparities exist within the native Hawaiian community compared to other people in Hawaii," she said. "What we are looking at is an exacerbation of those disparities even more during this time."

The California Fire Foundation is also helping those in Hawaii. They opened up donations, where proceeds will go to various resources.

"Firefighters who have lost their homes. Firefighters who have been injured as well as the public, who are so devastatingly affected by this horrific fire," said Floyd Rollins II, the president of San Francisco Firefighters local 798.

With more resources and others helping, people like McLaughlin remain hopeful they can hear from their families soon.

"I just have to hope and pray everyone is OK," McLaughlin said.

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