Maui's Resilience

The island's path to recovery
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Maui, a Hawaii island synonymous with paradise, was transformed into a real-life horror film in the wake of the deadliest weather-related disaster in state history.

The wind-whipped flames turned the fire into a roaring inferno that overtook entire neighborhoods hour-by-hour – destroying historic buildings, forcing fleeing residents into the Pacific Ocean for refuge and taking the lives of dozens who could not make it out in time.

In some neighborhoods, all that is left are the charred remains of the charming structures that once drew millions of visitors each year.

A desperate and grueling search for those who are unaccounted for continues.

And yet, amid the devastation, hope prevails.

The spirit of Aloha will raise the community up as the cleanup and rebuilding begins.

These are the locals’ stories.

Chapter 1: A Timeline of the Devastation
How the deadly wildfires took over Maui hour by hour

Multiple blazes ravaged the island of Maui, leaving more than 100 people dead and thousands of homes destroyed.

A perfect storm of strong winds and dry conditions left Maui vulnerable to what officials say was the deadliest natural disaster in the state's history.

The situation grew increasingly dire hour-by-hour on Aug. 8, as residents in Lahaina were forced to make life-or-death decisions to escape the deadly blaze taking over the historic town.

ABC News chronicled the blazes, the evacuations and the harrowing scenes residents were forced to confront as they watched Lahaina burn.

This is Lahaina, before and after:

Lahaina Square and Outlets in Lahaina Maui, Hawaii on June 25, 2023
Lahaina Square and Outlets in Lahaina Maui, Hawaii on Aug. 9, 2023
Banyan Court in Lahaina Maui, Hawaii on June 25, 2023.
Banyan Court in Lahaina Maui, Hawaii on Aug. 9, 2023.
Southern Lahaina Maui, Hawaii on June 25, 2023.
Southern Lahaina Maui, Hawaii on Aug. 9, 2023.
Chapter 2: Victims of the Maui Wildfires
The winds were so strong that we had to hold each other. You know, we take one step forward. It took us back two steps.
Brenda Arcangel, Lahaina resident
VIDEO: Hawaii governor warns death toll will go up amid search for wildfire victims

The island of Maui is in mourning.

And the search for those who perished in the wildfires has not stopped.

So much was lost in the flames, none more valuable than the human lives from a community described by locals as tight-knit.

With hundreds still missing, officials are warning the community that the death toll will likely continue to climb.

Among the dead are beloved family members, friends and neighbors, each with a story to tell.

When the inferno began in Lahaina, Franklin Trejos stayed behind to try to save the house and help their neighbors. "He was such a wonderful human," Trejos' niece, Kika Pérez Grant, said. "The best uncle, brother and friend."

Franklin Trejos is seen here in an undated file photo. Courtesy of Shannon Weber-Bogar

Carole Hartley, 60, died in Lahaina in the wildfire. She would have turned 61 in August. "She had a heart of gold and she cared about other people more than herself," her sister, Donna, said. "She was always that way."

Carole Hartley is seen here in an undated file photo. Courtesy of the Hartley Family

Joseph Schilling's loved ones believe he chose to stay behind at his apartment complex with several elderly residents who were unable to evacuate due to mobility issues. Schilling had lived on Maui for the last 25 years and became known as "Uncle Joe." "His life, I would describe it with two words: It was selfless and without convention," his younger brother, Dan Schilling, told ABC News.

In an undated photo, Joe Schilling, 67, is seen on a golf course in Lahaina, Hawaii. Courtesy of Bill Schilling

Lahaina resident Buddy Jantoc, 79, was among those killed in the wildfires. He was originally from Honolulu and had lived in Lahaina for 30 years, his granddaughter, Keshia Alakai, told ABC News. Jantoc’s "family and his music was everything," she said.

In an undated photo, Buddy Jantoc, center, is seen with his granddaughter Keshia Alakai and her husband. Courtesy of The Family of Buddy Jantoc
Chapter 3: The Cultural Impact
People and land are one and the same, and so the health of our land equals the health of our people.
Michelle Kauhane, Hawaii Community Foundation
VIDEO: Lahaina’s beloved banyan tree offers hope amid recovery

The wildfires have completely devastated the historic town of Lahaina, which has been on the National Register of Historic Places since 1962.

Lahaina was the capital of the Kingdom of Hawaii in the early to mid-1800s and became home to several cultural landmarks throughout its time.

Several Hawaiian monarchs are buried within the town’s limits and a 150-year-old banyan tree located in the center square symbolizes the historic locale.

Many families, particularly Native Hawaiian families, have lived in Lahaina for generations.

Chapter 4: A Community Saving Itself
Over the course of decades, or generations, you just begin to understand that you are responsible for your own safety and survival.
Kaniela Ing, seventh-generation Native Hawaiian
Native Hawaiians banded together to support each other after the devastating wildfire that leveled parts of Maui.

From beach landings to parking lots to front lawns, resident-led distribution efforts swiftly took over Maui following the devastation of the wildfires.

Some residents organize the necessities -- gas, diapers, water, fish and food -- delivered by boats from nearby islands to Maui's shores. Others haul goods into pickup trucks waiting to take the goods to those who need them most.

The community runs like a well-oiled machine. For the Native Hawaiians, or Kanaka Maoli, it's as if they've been preparing for this moment.

Volunteers unload donations at a distribution center for those affected by the Maui fires at Honokawai Beach Park in Napili-Honokowai, west of Maui, Hawaii, on Aug. 14, 2023. Yuki Iwamura/AFP via Getty Images
Hawaii federal firefighters volunteer to unload supplies at an aid distribution center on Wahinoho Way, in Lahaina, Maui, Hawaii, on Aug. 14, 2023. Robert Gauthier/Los Angeles Times via Getty Images

Producers: Jessie DiMartino, Nico Rothenberg, Chris Cirillo, Julian Kim

Associate producers: Lilia Geho, Sam Suzuki

Editors: Julian Kim

Graphics: Donald Pearsall, Luis Yordán

Photo editors: Phaedra Singelis, Gary Hershorn, Meredith Longo, Jill Tatara

Reporters: Kiara Alfonseca, Julia Jacobo, Emmanuelle Saliba, Becky Worley, Peter Charalambous

Text Editor: Morgan Korn

Senior Video Producers: Ashley LoFaso, Brian Canova

Visual Content Director: Andrew VanWickler

Managing Editor & Text Editor: Tom Liddy

Director - Digital Content: Paul Shin

Vice President - Digital Content: Lulu Chiang