Like a warzone: Hawaii’s fleeing tourists tell of escape
Tourists fleeing Hawaii’s deadly wildfire told Thursday how they had been trapped without food and power for days, but felt lucky to be escaping somewhere that “looks like a warzone.”
Dozens of people perished when a fast-moving fire tore through the historic settlement of Lahaina, destroying hundreds of buildings on Maui island.
Thousands of locals have been left homeless, and tourists have been urged to leave to free up resources and allow authorities to help those in desperate need.
Lorraina Peterson, 46, was honeymooning on the paradise island when the wildfire trapped her and hundreds of others in their hotel.
“We were stuck in our rooms for three days,” she told AFP as she waited for a flight from the airport in Kahului.
“It was very scary because there was no light. We couldn’t use our phones. We couldn’t call family.”
Peterson, from California, said the hotel had been using a back-up generator, but then that failed.
“The elevator stopped running and some people were stuck inside the elevator,” she said.
Guests were finally evacuated to the airport when the hotel ran out of food, she said.
But she was not sure when she would be able to get home, with her flight booked for Saturday, and her husband in a long queue to try to change the tickets.
“I don’t know if we’ll be able to get a hotel room, or we’ll have to sleep here on the floor,” she said.
Tourists were taken to the airport in school buses, where they were met by volunteers distributing sandwiches and water.
Canadian Brandon Wilson had travelled to Hawaii with his wife to celebrate their 25th anniversary.
But two days after they arrived, the fires cut the power to their AirBnB.
By Thursday morning they were running low on food and had no cash to buy groceries, so they decided to try to leave.
“As we drove through Lahaina it looked like a warzone,” he told AFP.
“It really looks like somebody came along just bombed the whole town. It’s completely devastated.”
“It was really hard to see,” he said, sobbing. “You feel so bad for people. They lost their homes, their lives, their livelihoods.”
by Paula RAMON
©️ Agence France-Presse