By Dr. Glenn Mollette
Maui has long been the go-to destination for millions to experience paradise. Life has changed.
Maui is now the site of the deadliest fire in modern U.S. history. At this writing, over 90 persons are been reported dead. The lovely town of Lahaina is nothing but charred remains and embers.
The news reports of people fleeing for their lives via any means of escape possible is horrific. People who were trying to escape in automobiles have been found unrecognizable except through eventual DNA testing. The entire island is now a humanitarian crisis. Medical supplies, food, and shelter are at crisis levels.
Like you, I’ve watched it from my television. Maui is a tragic global news story that no one wants to hear. Maui’s story reminds us that devastation can happen anywhere. It was a hurricane that swept away Ft. Myers Beach last year. A Tornado and flood destroyed parts of Kentucky. Or, it may be the fires that have destroyed so much in California. Maui reminds us that no paradise is untouchable.
You might feel safe and isolated in Appalachia. You may feel very comfortable in some remote Western terrain. You may live in a comfortable suburb or city surrounded by all types of Emergency Responders; you may be living in a tropical paradise. There are no guarantees that your community is insulated from disaster.
When a tornado, hurricane, or flood cripples a community there is nothing to do except pick up the pieces and try to start over. Likewise, Maui has no other choice but it will take years. There is no overnight recuperation for disaster.
There will be ongoing questions about Maui’s emergency response abilities. What kind of fire department did Lahaina have? How often had they drilled and prepared for the possibility of a widespread fire? Was it even something that the island thought possible? As the smoke settles, these questions and more will be asked.
If you are reading this in the comfort and safety of your home or apartment then consider this; value what you have when you have it. We all take the present for granted. We take our towns, schools, stores, jobs, incomes, residences, food, health, and each other for granted. We look back to the past and cherish a town that used to be. We cherish a parent or friend who used to be with us. We value and cherish old jobs and past experiences. It’s good to cherish the past. However, why not look around you today and value what and who you have – today.
In the meantime, we certainly pray for the hurting people of Maui. Most Americans will do what they can to be helpful and supportive. We always do. That’s one of many reasons our country is so great and blessed.
Glenn Mollette is the publisher of Newburgh Press, Liberty Torch, and various other publishing imprints; a national columnist – American Issues and Common Sense opinions, analysis, stories and features appear each week in over 500 newspapers, websites and blogs across the United States.