Matt Meola and Supporting the Maui Wildfire Relief
On Tuesday August 8th 2023, several large wildfires started on the Hawaiian island of Maui. 24 hours later the fire, fanned by 60mph winds from Hurricane Dora, had razed to the ground the historic coastal town of Lahaina which was once the capital of the Hawaiian Kingdom. It is already the deadliest U.S. wildfire in more than a century and the deadliest in the history of the state of Hawaii, with at least 99 people confirmed dead to date and that number expected to continue rising.
Hawaii is the home of surfing, and Maui is home to our team rider Matt Meola. Whilst the emergency response of the state and federal governments trickles in, Maui’s tight-knit community have also taken matters into their own hands. Matt has been volunteering as well as using his platform to direct donations towards the efforts led by locals. With many displaced residents stranded because they have run out of fuel for their vehicles, or camping out and in need of propane for cooking, getting gasoline and propane to survivors has been an essential but dangerous mission. Matt has been working with his friend Chimo Shipp of Fresh Fish Maui and a crew of volunteers including fellow surfer Albee Layer, first to ferry fuel and essential supplies into Lahaina and the West Side of Maui by boat and now by truck and trailer, and distributing them into the neighbourhoods and directly to those in need. He and Albee were also yesterday helping to cut fire breaks and put out flare-ups in the Kula/Upcountry area in central Maui where the second of Maui’s three major wildfires has raged.
“Chimmo’s been doing truckloads and boatloads for a couple of days now and he’s willing to keep it going for as long as he can. We know that a lot of people need gasoline to get their cars and get out of there, also to run their generators. There’s people camped out everywhere. We’re bringing lots of gas and tons of other groceries and supplies and clothes.”
We’ve always been in awe of Matt’s ability as a waterman and his self-sufficiency living off the land and the sea, and it is humbling to see him put his skills and selflessness to work for his community in its time of need.
If you have the means and would like to donate directly to community relief efforts on Maui you can find a list of reputable aid organisations with donation links, including Red Cross Wildfire Response in Hawaii, on the Maui Nui Strong website’s wildfire relief page. From within the USA you can donate to Fresh Fish Maui’s efforts using Venmo or text them on 808 818 8322 for more information.