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Amid grief and loss, Maui residents and businesses continue to recover from wildfires


Lee-Anne Wong:

There are businesses that are temporarily closing. Some have laid off employees.

Unfortunately, in an economy that is 70% dependent on tourism, it’s really very difficult. We were having a housing crisis and a labor crisis before the fires following three closures during COVID and businesses were struggling to recover. So now the people of Maui face another shutdown, essentially mandated by the state, except the federal government hasn’t declared all of Maui County a disaster area, just the affected areas.

And so all of the small businesses on Maui that have dedicated their resources, their time, their energy, their money to the relief efforts are now kind of twirling in the wind right now. And they don’t have many, if any, financial options for getting help, which should come in the form of, say, a disaster loan or grant.

It’s a bit crazy, because it’s as if, once again, it was not the fault of these companies, and that they had to bear the brunt of the economic fallout. But they say Maui is open. It’s like, by the time people come back, we can’t tell what the state of the economy will be here.


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