The devastating wildfires that swept quickly through the Hawaiian island of Maui this week have claimed the lives of at least 36 people. The wind-whipped flames left the historic town of Lahaina, known as a site of Hawaiian cultural heritage, in ruins. As a result of the devastation, President Joe Biden issued a major disaster declaration on Thursday.
For an island community already dealing with some of the highest rates of homelessness nationwide, the destruction wrought by the fires couldn’t have come at a worse time. On top of that, disaster recovery for communities living in such geographic isolation could prove uniquely logistically difficult.
Northeastern Global News spoke with Daniel Aldrich, a Northeastern professor who directs the university’s Security and Resilience Program and co-directs the Global Resilience Institute, about the challenges facing Hawaii, its affected island community and the broader emergency response.