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Hawaii governor says West Maui to reopen to public on Oct. 8

Lalaine Ignao | TFC News Hawaii

Posted at Sep 15 2023 05:17 PM

The West Maui Region of Hawaii will reopen soon to the public.

Hawaii Governor Josh Green announced that the area will once more welcome visitors starting Oct. 8, two months since the deadly wildfire in the island.

Lahaina's displaced residents now anxiously await for what's in store for them, including one Filipino-American who has been hopping off from one place to another over the past month.

"I'm starting to worry," said Debra Arellano. "I'm like, should I just wait it out? Have faith in Josh Green that feels secure these contracts with the hotel to house us, all of us for 18 months more? Or do I start trying to find a rental now before the whole town gets booted out of these hotels?"

Green said that the decision was made to support Maui's economic recovery. But some people feel that the move is too soon, as those displaced are still reeling from the devastation that destroyed their town.

"People are still trying to figure out where their family members are, trying to figure out what to do next," said Tiffany Somera. "People are still in survival mode. They need a place to stay. They need the basic needs right now.”

A hotel association executive has told the media that West Maui hotels are at about 55% in their capacity. Mufi Hannemann said this would allow travelers to visit the island, while still letting residents stay with them.

"Maui is one thing that needs to run off on tourism," said Lahaina resident Lester Dumayas. "But at the same time, with this whole situation, it's kind of hard for them to go back into the westside of the island."

He added: "We've had events with people like some tourists going back over in Lahaina stealing street signs, like small little memorabilia that they could take off the fire. We don't know how it's going to be when it opens back up, if they're going to have that respect for our town.”

About 7,200 people are still staying in 29 different hotels, as the State scrambles to find about 1,500 units as long-term housing options for the displaced.

Officials also appeal to owners of short-term rental or Airbnb to join the rental pool.

The deadline for registration for FEMA assistance is on Oct. 10.

As survivors of the wildfire continue in their recovery, dozens of persons remain unaccounted for. The death toll from the blaze has stayed at 115.