KLM and Red Cross shelter Maui Wildfire Evacuees

August 13, 2023

The devastating wildfires that ravaged Maui in August 2023 prompted a state-wide emergency declaration and federal disaster recognition. In response, Ke’ehi Lagoon Memorial (KLM) opened its doors to those who were impacted and in need of immediate shelter. Park facilities were transformed into emergency shelters and operational hubs by request of the Governor’s office, uniting efforts from the Hawaii Tourism Authority (HTA), the American Red Cross, and FEMA.

Evacuees, many who were tourists, were transported by HTA from their original shelter at the Honolulu Convention Center to Ke’ehi Lagoon Memorial on August 13, 2023. Tommy Kakesako Hall was ready to provide arrivals with shelter and essential facilities like showers, food, and security, thanks to support from the Red Cross and Salvation Army. In addition to assisting evacuees, KLM helped FEMA crews enroute to Maui from the Mainland by providing them with essential operational space in John Burns Hall.

One challange for park staff was maintaining the balance between supporting disaster relief efforts and the park’s regularly scheduled functions, which included several large private events. Despite potential logistical complications, the transition to and from emergency operations was seamless. No scheduled activities were cancelled.

The park’s response and support during the Maui wildfires reflects KMO’s commitment to service to the community and in partnership with other organizations and agencies at both the local and state level. Ke’ehi Lagoon Memorial stands ready to serve during times of emergency.