CLEVELAND (WJW) – A local group is working to send aid to the people of Maui impacted by the wildfires.
“For us, being raised on the island, Ohana is our belief,” said Annie Patricio, of Cleveland.
Hearts were heavy as Polynesian hula dancers practiced at the Inlet Dance Theatre Tuesday night. Patricio checked in on her family in Lahaina.
“Looking around the town, all you see black. Everything is black. Our house, there is nothing standing,” said cousin Artcherlynn Marzan.
Patricio and her fiancé Marc Kusaka were just in Maui visiting family. They missed the wildfires by a week.
“It’s heartbreaking. I remember visiting, remembering how beautiful everything is. Everything is gone now,” said Kusaka.
Darren Lopez grew up in Lahaina.
“They are starting to identify the bodies and we are starting to find out and every single person I know. It takes everything out of me, you know,” said Lopez.
Lopez said people in his Ohana survived by diving into water to escape.
“They told me a lot of them jumped in the ocean, and even in the ocean, they were burned. There was a layer of ash,” said Lopez.
While still in shock, Hawaiians in Northeast Ohio are coming together. The Polynesian Arts Council of Cleveland is organizing a ‘Benefit Lu’au for Maui’ at the Inlet Theater next weekend to help their Ohanas back home in Lahaina.
“It’s something that we grew up with. That if someone is in need, you don’t ask. You act,” said Lopez.
If you would like to help or donate, go here.