Hawaii church continues recovery efforts after Maui fires

Hawaii church continues recovery efforts after Maui fires

by
Daniel Sperry for Nazarene News
| 24 Apr 2024
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Puka_Naz_Rainbow

Dylan Nails and his wife, Emma, were out getting food at a nearby fast-food restaurant in Makawao, Hawaii, when they noticed a Red Cross shelter had been opened, much to their surprise. Hours later, Dylan, a pastor at Pukalani Church of the Nazarene, received a phone call asking if the shelter staff could use the church printer to make 1,500 copies of intake forms for the shelter.

“We looked outside, and you could see the glow coming this way,” Dylan said.

That day was 8 August 2023 in the early hours of the deadly and devastating wildfires that ravaged the island of Maui. Hours later, the Nails could see the flames from the church.

Pukalani Church of the Nazarene has been aiding the community since the beginning of the disaster. From initial evacuation intake to food distribution to begin the rebuilding process, the church has walked alongside its community every step of the way.
In those first hours, the church bought 250 air mattresses to help provide beds for the evacuees at the Red Cross shelter. When the shelter got overrun, the church opened its space.

In the following days, the church continued to provide space for overflow from the shelter. Dylan said they ended up with mostly travelers or tourist families who were displaced from their stays due to the fires. The church helped provide transport back to the airport to leave the island.

The fire burned from 8-11 August, and many roads were blocked off to Lahaina with authorities controlling who could get in and out of the area.

“But God made a way for us to get a pass,” Dylan said. “So, while also having a shelter, we took our church bus and ran supplies in and out of Lahaina.”Water Machine

Now, more than eight months since the disaster began, Pukalani Nazarene has transitioned through different stages of relief.

Through a grant from local officials, the church set up a WAIEA Atmospheric Water Machine that operates on solar power. The machine takes water from the humidity in the air and turns it into up to 100 gallons of water daily. As of last week, they have given out 21,000 gallons of water.

The church also helped with produce distribution, serving up to 75-100 cars a day. They put on eight distribution days to give away produce and other items such as coolers, generators, and toiletries.

Many relief programs have begun to provide victims with food vouchers and other relief opportunities. And while there are many systems in place, Dylan says still people are falling through the system's cracks. That’s who Pukalani Nazarene is hoping to help.

The church has begun to transition away from direct relief activities and toward helping build houses for people displaced by the fires. They have built two houses that are already being rented out and four that are in the final stages of completion. That project is being aided by a grant from Nazarene Compassionate Ministries.

Dylan says that for Pukalani Nazarene, it’s about just trying to do something to help.

“We’ve had churches come to us and ask how we got into all of [the recovery efforts],” Dylan said. “We just started somewhere.”

Dylan used the example of Lincoln City Church of the Nazarene in Oregon, which sent over 20 quilts that could be distributed.

“Just do what you can,” Dylan said. “Start there, and God will bless it and make it abundant.”

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