Thu, Sep 7, 2023 5:19 AM
By Kim Jarrett, The Center Square
The economic impact of the Maui fires is $11 million a day since Aug. 9, when the fires occurred, according to a report from the Department of Business, Economic Development and Tourism.
The fires led the agency to reduce its economic growth projections for Hawaii from 1.8% for 2023 to 1.1% and from 2% to 1.5% for 2024.
"The Maui wildfires impacted not only West Maui, but our entire state and the lives of our residents in many ways and have affected our economic recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic.," said DBEDT Director James Kunane Tokioka. "The reconstruction of Lahaina will be a long-term process."
More than 2,000 homes were destroyed in the fire, along with 800 businesses, according to the report. The businesses employed about 7,000, representing more than $2.7 million in daily revenue.
About 130 people filed unemployment claims per week before the fire. The first week after the fire, 865 people filed for unemployment. That number skyrocketed to 4,449 in the second week after the blaze and 2,705 in the third week.
More than 5,800 people are staying in hotel rooms at 29 locations, Gov. Josh Green said in a social media update. Another 1,100 are in vacation rentals. Fire victims received about $21 million in short-term assistance, he said.
At least another $55 million is needed, the governors said. Business grants make up $25 million, with relief covering the other $30 million.
"Everyone is going to struggle and suffer in this period but we have to house people, we have to get them through to the next phase then we can begin recovery." Green said.
The fires have also impacted Maui's tourism revenues. The island is the second most visited behind Oahu, according to data from DBET. More than 23,000 air seats on 88 transpacific flights were canceled in August. Passenger counts at Kahului Airport decreased from 7,000 a day to 2,000, according to DBET.
State and local officials continue to discourage traffic to West Maui, particularly Lahaina, but the rest of the island is open, they said.
“In the meantime, all other areas of Maui and the rest of Hawaii are safe and open to visitors, and we continue to welcome and encourage respectful travel to our beautiful state, which will support our local economy and help speed the recovery of those who have already suffered so much," Green said.
The death toll from the fire is at 115, a number that hasn't changed in more than a week.