Maui residents who disobeyed barricade survived fires
Key Excerpts from Article on Website of The Hill
Posted: September 3rd, 2023
Those who disobeyed the barricaded road closures during the Maui fires survived the disaster, while many of those who heeded orders to turn around perished in their cars and homes with no way out. At least 114 people were killed in the fires earlier this month, and the FBI is estimating that up to 1,100 more are unaccounted for. Officials are facing increased scrutiny for the emergency response, including why the emergency sirens were not set off and whether closing the roads prevented people from getting to safety. In the early hours of the Maui fires, there were more than 30 power poles downed alongside the Honoapiilani Highway at the south end of Lahaina — a historic town that was decimated in the fires earlier this month. Officials closed Lahaina Bypass Road due to the fires, blocking the only way out of Lahaina to the southern part of the island. Maui Police Chief John Pelletier said during a news conference that officers never stopped people from leaving the area, but the AP report suggests that residents were discouraged from disobeying the barricade. Kim Cuevas-Reyes said that she survived with her two sons by ignoring orders to turn right onto Front Street, which has now been devastated by the fires. Instead, she turned left and drove in the wrong lane to escape the town. “The gridlock would have left us there when the firestorm came,” Cuevas-Reyes [said].
Note: Despite years of Maui wildfire warnings, Hawaii government officials and Hawaiian Electric did little to address the wildfire threat, spending more on lobbying and peddling influence with regulators and politicians than preventing the fires from happening. For further exploration, watch Robert Kennedy Jr. and former leading BlackRock portfolio manager Edward Dowd discuss this tragic issue.