LAHAINA, Maui (WKBN) — Explosive wildfires on the Hawaiian island of Maui have left many dead and reduced much of the town of Lahaina to ash. The former CEO of Mercy Health in Youngstown now calls the town on Maui home, and he spoke with First News about his harrowing experience.
Robert Shroder’s home in Lahaina narrowly escaped the flames of what is now the deadliest wildfire the U.S. has seen in over a century.
“I just saw the sky was just black, and you could see the orange flames going up,” Shroder said.
Shroder and his wife have been living on Maui for the last several years. His daughter and two young grandsons were in town when the blazes began.
He said the warning system was awful.
“They warned people by sending out on the radio to evacuate,” he said. “Well, that’s real great when no one has power.”
Luckily for Shroder, his home is powered by solar panels. His neighbors, however, were less fortunate, losing power and then food, as their fridges had been off for days.
“We were cooking for the entire neighborhood,” Shroder said. “They would bring us the food that was spoiling and we would cook it and then we would just feed the whole neighborhood with what we had.”
He said he’ll be surprised if the death toll does not rise.
“There were so many bodies on Front Street of people that were caught in their cars,” Shroder said. “Because what was happening, it was going towards the ocean, so people were driving away from it to the ocean, and then when they got to the ocean, there was nowhere to go.”
Those in need of medical attention have had very few options.
“Urgent cares couldn’t operate because they had no power. All the medical labs are burnt down, so the only way you can get any medical care is to go to the other side of the island,” Shroder said. “But the problem is once you go to the other side of the island, they won’t let you back to this side of the island.”
Shroder said his kids would like to see him and his wife come back to the Valley, but they refuse to leave their town of Lahaina out to dry.
“We’re going to do what we can to help,” Shroder said. “This is home, and you don’t leave home when things get bad.”
A fund has been set up to aid those in need. Read more about how to donate to the Maui disaster fund here.