Nearly everywhere you turn on the island of Maui, you will come across two types of people within its 164,000 residents: Someone who has lost so much or knows someone who has lost so much, and someone who is willing to go above and beyond to help their neighbor.
The Aloha spirit in Maui is real, it's palpable and it's helping many through the most difficult hardship of their life.
There is also the unique might to the power of mother nature in Hawaii. It's felt with each crashing wave and with each incinerated home, and it's only matched by the might of human nature, innate to those who call the island home.
"Working together is the way to do it," one islander said. "This is Maui. We are operating from a different way."
Thousands of people remain displaced by the fires that ripped through historic Lahaina, Maui's upcountry, and its southern landscapes. But for everything the flames took, Maui's people were able to give back.
By day's end Sunday, electricity and internet had been restored to parts of Lahaina, supplies had been delivered en masse and people started to feel a glimmer of hope that could only come from each other.
"We all have this really strong, in Olelo, it's called pilina," said Thomas Baum, a volunteering resident. "It's building this sense of connection and community that we all have with each other."
Scripps News found Baum volunteering at one of the shelters on Maui. He says several of his friends have no home and no clothes, yet they are only focused on the blessing that they are still here — a sentiment also shared by others.
"At the forefront of the conversation, it's not 'Look at me I lost all my s***,'" Baum said. "It's look at what we have. We have this beautiful thing, this beautiful opportunity, to malama each other — which is care for each other — this opportunity to step up and really be there for our neighbors and build our community stronger."
When disaster strikes, we tend to refer to those affected as saying they lost everything. But in Maui at least, those who have lost everything have not lost each other.
"Staying together, kuhi," one resident said. "We got to get in there to our friends and relatives and help them."
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