More than 100 people have died, and more than 1,000 remain missing as the result of wildfires last week in Lahaina, Hawaii, on the island of Maui.
Eight NPCA member plants are located on the Hawaiian islands, including Walker Industries, which operates two facilities on Maui.
Wil Cambra, president of Walker Industries, said Lahaina is unrecognizable. Ash covers everything that is left, which mostly includes burned-out buildings and car husks. An entire retirement community, including an assisted living facility, is gone with many of those residents among the unaccounted.
“Annihilated” is a word Cambra kept coming back to.
“It’s total devastation. It’s really hard to even describe,” Cambra said. “Entire streets, entire rows of buildings are just not there anymore. It is impossible to get your bearings in the areas affected because there is nothing there. It’s hard to even get your mind around it.
“Being in the island’s central valley, we escaped much of it, but everyone has family or friends who have lost their homes or even their lives.”
Support has poured into the island from across the United States as FEMA continues to operate recovery centers and look for survivors.
Garret Lau, general manager for Jensen Precast’s Hawaii Region, said the outside support has been overwhelming. So much bottled water, clothes and canned food have been donated that warehouse space – what’s left of it – can’t hold it all.
“Maui will never be the same, but our love for one another and Aloha will get us through, and we will see better days,” said Lau, who operates a facility on O’ahu.
For those who would like to support the effort through a monetary donation, Cambra suggested two organizations that are doing good work on Maui. Both have set up donation pages specific to the wildfires.
NPCA members who attended the Annual Convention in 2007 may remember the Walker Industries facilities from the plant tour.
The Walker facilities have been shut down since the outbreak last week, and the company donated its portable generators to help with the relief effort. Cambra said all Walker workers are accounted for, so that is a reason to be thankful.
It will take some time – maybe a decade – for the island to recover, though.
“The last week we’ve just been trying to help any way we can,” Cambra said. “Whatever will help the community.”