Last month we were planning a September getaway to the mainland. The trip has now shifted from family vacation to contingency plan. I know we aren’t the only ones.
Last week, the last thing on our mind was our business. Our home is in Kihei. The area behind our home was ablaze from the Pulehu fire. Adam went to the roundabout to film and see the status several times during the night, sharing the glow. Drone footage shows the extent of the fire which, luckily, was contained before causing structural damage.
From this fire, our home was filled with smoke, ash covered every surface. There were no specific evacuation updates on our phones. I texted friends every ten minutes until 5am to see where the fires were located and if they were being contained. I walked into our kids’ rooms every half hour wondering if we should wake them. We received notices on Facebook of areas north and south of a road nearby to evacuate, but the logistics of that message didn’t add up. I had bags packed and ready to leave at a moment’s notice… but realized now that the notice would likely not have come. I wasn’t even aware of what was unfolding in Lahaina.
Beneath the surface, a new crisis was silently emerging. Tourists on island were asked to leave to give resources to the island, and most did. Beaches were empty. Rental cars lined the grassy areas surrounding Kahului Airport, a sickening reminder that we were in for big trouble amidst one of the worst that was currently unfolding.
I felt constant guilt worrying for our family when I knew others have it so much worse. We did what we could and gave what we had. As cancellations rolled in, it was clear our own business would immediately suffer and I had to put everything on hold. I could no longer focus entirely on helping, with two kids at home for the week and a tanking business, Adam and I barely had a chance to speak to one another. The COVID PTSD was real – I swapped editing sessions for SBA loans, navigating unemployment, 100 emails in the inbox when I was used to clearing it out at the end of each day.
Is Maui really closed?
This is a post written as a small business owner on the island of Maui. Everyone is processing trauma in different ways. But business owners are sensing the urgency. Maui is not closed. Many use tourism dollars to support themselves and their families. More information below:
Wildfires have mainly affected Lahaina in West Maui. All non-essential travel to West Maui (including Lahaina, Napili, Kaʻanapali, and Kapalua) is strongly discouraged through the month of August, according to Governor Josh Green’s August 13 emergency proclamation. Hotels in West Maui have temporarily stopped accepting bookings of future reservations as they are housing their employees and families, evacuees, and first responders.
Other areas on Maui (including Kahului, Wailuku, Kihei, Wailea, Makena, and Hana) and the islands of Kauaʻi, Oʻahu, Lanaʻi, and Hawai‘i Island remain unaffected. We urge visitors to be especially mindful and respectful in our island home as our community continues through this tragedy.
LAHAINA and WEST MAUI are closed. The island of Maui is not. Wailea/SOUTH MAUI, where we are based, is open. I acknowledge that this is a sensitive topic. I can’t tell you how much I hate having to write this. Moreso, I hate that leadership has failed us on so many levels. I HATE that I have to barrack for our BUSINESS when we should have stability or answers and systems in place to provide support. I’m wondering how, after COVID, there was not a plan in place if tourism stalled so small business is taken care of, releasing some financial burden to in turn take care of the community? This is a separate emergency that must be addressed.
Supporting Maui Wildfire victims and Maui small businesses
Many of our clients and friends are asking how to support our business during this time. First, we encourage you to donate to reputable organizations to help wildfire victims directly. Next, if you want to support our own business, it will in turn help us support our community and our family. Here’s how you can help.
How to help Lahaina wildfire victims directly
How to help our own Maui small business
We aren’t asking for Venmo or GoFundMe donations as our business and home were not destroyed by the fire. Others need these funds much more than we do. Please prioritize the families directly impacted by these events using the links above.
Due to the fact that we are reliant on tourism as with so many other businesses on island, however, the effect of the wildfires will be long lasting and we are trying everything possible to not rely on an SBA loan again as we did with COVID. Unsure when or if grants and funding will be available to small businesses on Maui, everything is uncertain. We’ve had many clients asking how they can help us, directly, now.
- Travel to Maui
If you are planning to travel to Maui from September onward, keep your booking and stay in Wailea. Do not visit Lahaina. We are based in Wailea. Maui is not closed to tourism. Canceling a trip to Maui beyond the month of August is not necessary. Travel respectfully, and, as always, you will be welcomed. While well-intentioned, it will be harmful to our economy to cancel your shoot or even move it to another island.
- Buy an eGift Card
We are offering eGift Cards to be used toward a session or print from The Land + Sea Store. You may purchase for yourself or a friend. We offered this during COVID and it was a great help, but we have learned that in times of financial need we need to also consider our own ability to fulfill these items. For that reason, eGift Cards have the following contingencies:
– May be applied to Maui photoshoots (no inter-island bookings)
– 1 year validity period from the date of purchase
– eGiftcards are non-refundable
– May be transferred to friends and family
– May be applied to any Maui photoshoot OR Land + Sea Store purchase
– If you won’t be travelling within a year of purchase, may apply it to The Land + Sea Store
- Leave a review
If you’re not in the place to contribute financially and have worked with us previously, we would welcome your feedback to help boost our business.
- Buy Ocean Art Prints
Maui ocean art prints are available for purchase at The Land + Sea Store.
- Purchase a digital download
Download a high resolution file of our Maui ocean art image “Marlin” to print as you wish.
- Lahaina and West Maui are closed, Wailea and other areas of the island remain open. As always, continue to travel with respect and responsibility and do not visit Lahaina, even if roads are open.
- Keep your booking for now if you’re traveling from September onward
- While your trip to another island is a well-intentioned gesture, it will not help Maui small business in the long run
- Help those directly impacted first and if you have the means, support our family using the links above.
If you have any questions, feel free to reach out. We’ll be sharing more about how to support other small businesses soon.
Thank you for supporting Maui and traveling respectfully and for doing what you can to support wildfire victims and Maui small businesses. Thank you for your patience, kindness, and acknowledging the crisis at hand and taking steps to ensure everyone is supported.