‘Very close-knit community,’ Maui reckons with trauma of historic wildfires

August 17, 2021
AOA-member doctors in Maui describe shock and disbelief after the island community suffers the deadliest U.S. wildfire in over a century.

Where lush banyans and bustling resorts once stood, sooty ash and rubble now mottle Maui’s coastal town of Lahaina. The aftermath of burned-out cars and hulking debris, an out-of-place pallor against tropical blues, tells of chaotic final moments in a way that belies description and otherwise couldn’t be told as power and cellular outages still torment communities. But for Linda Nguyen, O.D., and others on Hawaii’s second-largest island, there’s another line of communication that never fails.

“Word of mouth or the ‘coconut wireless’ is a strong, unbreakable signal,” Dr. Nguyen says. “For now, I can tell you the devastation that you see in the media is a fraction of the loss and trauma that the Maui community is enduring.”

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