COLUMBUS, Ohio (WCMH) — An Ohio State football player from Hawaii is asking for donations for the people of Lahaina, the coastal town in Maui decimated by wildfires.
Enokk Vimahi, who plays offensive line for the Buckeyes, went to Kahuku High School in Honolulu, which is less than 100 miles from Lahaina. At least 99 people are confirmed dead, with the toll expected to rise substantially. Thousands of structures, mostly homes, have been reduced to rubble with billions of dollars worth of damages.
Continuing relief efforts, our sister station KHON2 and parent company Nexstar are partnering with the American Red Cross to aid those affected. Through this collaboration, a dedicated Maui wildfire donation page has been established. This platform enables direct contributions to support those impacted by the tragedy.
“If you can, please help out the people over there in Lahaina and in Maui please,” Vimahi pleaded.
The OSU senior said he does not have family in Lahaina but does have a few friends who live there. He said they are all safe. Vimahi said his brother flew in from California to help aid in the rescue and recovery. Vimahi also pleaded with people to not go visit Maui as a tourist right now.
“A lot of tourists are planning on going back in just because of how cheap the tickets are. But please, please be mindful of everything that’s going on,” he said. “There are a lot of lives affected, a lot of people affected, a lot of lives lost, a lot of homes lost, a lot of environment lost and that’s something that the people of Hawaii, we take very seriously.”
These wildfires constitute the state’s most devastating natural disaster since a 1960 tsunami claimed 61 lives. An even deadlier tsunami in 1946 resulted in the loss of over 150 lives on the Big Island.
An aerial assessment of the area on Thursday revealed a once-vibrant community transformed into a charred ghost town. According to Associated Press video journalist Ty O’Neil, who was on the flight, streets were now piles of rubble and foundations. Burnt-out vehicles littered the roads, and a collapsed elementary school stood as a testament to the destruction.
This Maui blaze stands as the deadliest U.S. wildfire since the 2018 Camp Fire in California, which killed at least 85 people and devastated the town of Paradise.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.