A cool poise after Maui’s fire

Extreme weather events and other disasters keep posing new questions about how communities can be better prepared for such emergencies. One line of defense is now evident in Lahaina, the Hawaiian town on the island of Maui, which was leveled last week by fire.

The inferno cut off roads, cellphone networks, and the internet, complicating official responses to an event few anticipated. Yet even before the smoke had cleared, private boats traveled from other islands and elsewhere on Maui laden with food, water, and other supplies. Anyone with a house still standing opened their doors and kitchens. Religious congregations that lost their buildings gathered to worship wherever they could. 

This outpouring of generosity is rooted in aloha and ohana, two traditional Hawaiian concepts that link individuals in bonds of love, compassion, and family. “We are here for one another, bound by the spirit of aloha that defines our community,” wrote Blake Ramelb, a Lahaina native and filmmaker. “Let us join hands across the miles, showing that compassion knows no bounds.”