LAHAINA, Hawaii – Households have been torn asunder. A group is reeling with grief. Greater than 100 individuals have perished and a whole bunch extra stay lacking after flames and smoke barreled from the hills and annihilated the historic city of Lahaina.

However even in locations overwhelmed by despair and devastation, the Hawaiian spirit generally known as ‘ohana endures.

Within the Hawaiian lexicon, ‘ohana is a sensibility, a mind-set which means household, belonging, group and a lot extra — solace in a time of calamity. It’s a unifying precept in an more and more fragmented world. And in latest weeks, amid misfortune, the phrase has taken on profound significance in a spot interesting for assist.

“In times like this, ‘ohana gets stronger,” says Dustin Kaleiopu, whose Maui roots date back to when monarchs ruled the islands.

The kanaka of Hawaii, the Native Hawaiians who inhabit the islands, value ’ohana, which extends beyond the familial ties of blood. It is a life nourished by kinship.

“In a small town like Lahaina, we all know each other. We’ve all grown up together,” says Kaleiopu, whose ‘ohana came to his aid after he and his grandfather escaped the flames that turned their home into a mound of ash and charred debris. ”It’s such a tight-knit group.”


Discovering grace and solace will be nearly unimaginable when the very world round you is burning. That is what Lahaina faces right this moment because the smoke begins to clear.

1000’s of different houses are gone. Not less than 115 individuals are confirmed useless. And by some counts, almost 400 of Lahaina’s residents stay unaccounted for: fathers and moms, husbands and wives, brothers and sisters, younger and outdated, mates and neighbors — all a part of somebody’s ’ohana.

“There’s plenty of families who’ve been displaced by the fire. So we’re going to take care of our community as much as possible. So in this sense, our community is the ’ohana,” says Kapali Keahi, whose family has lived on Maui for generations.

In the days, and now weeks, after the deadliest wildfire in the United States in more than a century, families who lost homes and possessions continue to depend on the generosity of relatives, friends and even strangers. Shipments of food, clothes and everyday necessities keep arriving from the state’s other islands, including Oahu, home to Honolulu.

Online fundraisers, many set up by displaced families, have raised hundreds of thousands of dollars, much of it from distant places. One relief fund has well surpassed $1.2 million, its 6,400 donors hailing from every part of the globe.

So much of Lahaina has been lost. Left behind are people in deep despair, said Kekai Keahi, another Lahaina resident. One thing, though, remained strong: a connecting strand.

“‘Ohana was never lost. It never left,” he mentioned. “We will always come to each other’s aid.”

Keahi spoke as Hawaiian flags fluttered close to the ocean and a Native Hawaiian group calling itself Na ‘Ohana o Lele — the ‘ohana of Lahaina — gathered at a beachside park to speak on behalf of their community.

The message from the group was clear: There will be talk of rebuilding, yes, but families need time to grieve and begin healing before any of that begins.

Archie Kalepa, a surfing legend and revered member of Maui’s Native Hawaiian community, urged his ‘ohana to honor core values. “Love your family, take care of the land,” he said, “and you’ll rebuild your group.”


The group of 13,000 individuals included immigrants from many components of the world. Right here, they discover frequent floor.

Regardless of the place they got here from, irrespective of once they arrived, transplants are quickly charmed by Hawaii’s tradition, a melange of imported customs and traditions melded collectively by methods in existence lengthy earlier than the British imperialist and explorer Capt. James Prepare dinner got here throughout the Hawaiian archipelago almost 250 years in the past whereas crossing the Pacific.

As they assimilate, newcomers choose up the oft-spoken vocabulary intrinsic to island life. “Mahalo” conveys gratitude, admiration and respect. “Aloha” is for hiya and goodbye, or for love and affection — a phrase with the heat of a hug and the great thing about a lei.

Then there’s ’ohana. Because the film “Lilo & Stitch” outlined it, “’ohana means family, and family means nobody is left behind or forgotten.”

With so many useless or lacking, a sentiment like that’s ripe to resonate throughout a group dealing with loss.

“It’s all about family out here,” says Mike Tomas, whose rapid household misplaced their house within the fireplace. They’re sheltering within the houses of mates and family. He had deliberate to maneuver along with his girlfriend to Texas someday within the fall, however they are going to now depart a lot sooner.

“Nothing’s left here,” he says. Not even the garments and belongings they’d begun packing. However he is aware of he’ll be again.

“This has always been home,” he says. “This is where family is.”

Amber Bobin moved from Chicago to Maui almost 4 years in the past. She says she was drawn, partly, by the tradition and powerful bonds of group.

Earlier this week, she joined a small group to hold 115 crosses on fences erected alongside the street that cuts by way of Lahaina. That is a single cross for every of the souls whose stays have been discovered. Bobin anticipated to hold extra crosses within the coming days. The fence additionally was festooned with a group of ribbons, one for each particular person nonetheless lacking.

And if ‘ohana is a lifestyle in good instances, these crosses and ribbons assist reveal what it’s in powerful ones: a mindset that ensures those that have been a part of you stay so, even after they have been torn away by forces nobody imagined can be visited upon house.

“To be able to experience what ‘ohana means, especially in tragedy,” she says, “has been significantly impactful.”

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