In early August, a devastating wildfire consumed Lāhainā, Maui, resulting in over 100 confirmed deaths and 850 people missing. The event has ignited criticism against Hawaii's state government and Governor Josh Green for perceived inadequacies in emergency response and preparedness. The lack of warning sirens and official response has drawn widespread condemnation. Adding to the tragedy, many children were home alone due to school closures for an unrelated reason, amplifying the disaster's human toll.
Governor Green’s “Anti-Housing” proclamation, aimed at fast-tracking the construction of 50,000 homes on Oahu, has exacerbated public skepticism. Residents worry developers will capitalize on the disaster to build luxury properties, particularly given Maui's existing housing crisis and high average home prices. State Police Chief John Pelletier's history and the federal disaster declaration have not alleviated local concerns; reports indicate minimal assistance post-disaster, including initial restrictions on insulin deliveries.
The situation has been further inflamed by accusations of downplaying the high number of child victims to protect the Biden administration and local Democrats. Over 2,000 children from Lahaina's public schools remain unaccounted for, raising concerns over the actual toll and allegations of a cover-up. Private schools are also impacted, with Maui Preparatory Academy, for instance, seeing a 40% enrollment increase.
Survivors and community members are tormented, believing that better warnings could have saved lives. The disaster has glaringly exposed the deficiencies in emergency preparedness and the need for better coordination in rescue efforts. Despite the monumental social and educational impact, critics accuse officials and media of underreporting the disaster, triggering calls for scrutiny and accountability.
President Biden's visit and comparison of the tragedy to losing his 1967 Corvette in a fire have not helped matters. Public debate is now shifting from recovery to a larger dialogue about governance, accountability, and Hawaii's socio-economic future. Critics are warning against moving on without confronting the consequences of what they view as a preventable tragedy, while the local community remains in mourning, awaiting news of hundreds or possibly thousands of missing individuals.
Accusations of foul play have also emerged.
Accusations of foul play have also emerged, with critics suggesting that officials are not being transparent about the number of children missing or failed to protect residents adequately. Online discourse is filled with disgust toward the handling of the disaster, echoing that mainstream media isn't giving the tragedy the front-page coverage it deserves. Overall, the disaster reveals systemic weaknesses in local governance, preparedness, and media accountability, leading to a collective failure to protect the most vulnerable, and fueling a public debate about the future of Hawaii.
Drones Are Prohibited from Collecting Footage of Maui Wildfire Devastation
However, things may be even worse than what we see. An independent journalist named Geoff Cygnus has been documenting his trip to Maui, where he is attempting to report on this tragedy and its aftermath. He calls himself a "volunteer reporter" and has nearly 400,000 followers on TikTok. On August 17, he announced that local officials shut down their ability to fly drones, which makes many people suspicious about what they might be trying to hide.
"I have been on public property that was not in any way locked down. That's where my footage came from," Cygnus said. But those areas are no longer available for filming.
On Saturday, Cygnus shared some more odd news. "There seems to be a huge emphasis on ensuring that the media and anyone else can't see what's going on here in Lahaina West Maui," he said. He showed "miles and miles of black fence" that is obscuring what's going on on ground zero. Nobody can get in or take any pictures. There are also "weird foreign police cars" that have shown up suddenly that stand guard around the perimeter. "They don't look like any police I've ever seen in the United States," he said.
At one point, he tried to get out of his car to film some footage, but the National Guard yelled at him and told him to get back in his car. "You can't even stop your car" anymore, according to Cygnus. This makes his previous footage all the more unique because there is virtually nobody who is able to capture those photos or videos anymore. Cygnus is curious to find out why there is so much effort ("fencing rocks, police barricades") to blocking off the area where the wildfires were. It begs the question yet again: what are they trying to hide? Cygnus said he essentially gave up his day job to go to Maui and collect footage; he said he has been able to get by because of donations sent to his Zelle account.
When Cygnus' video was shared on X (formerly known as Twitter), Community Notes offered an explanation. Apparently, the Hawaii State Department of Transportation (HDOT) has started installing nearly 30,000 linear feet of dust screen along Honoapiʻilani Highway and the Lahaina Bypass. Maui-based contractors began the month-long project on August 16, and it will cost an estimated $2.4 million. On August 21, HDOT received $3 million in quick-release Emergency Relief funding from the Federal Highway Administration for work like this. The screens reportedly aim to protect highway users and will not interfere with ongoing recovery efforts in Lahaina. HDOT crews will maintain the screens, which will remain in place indefinitely. Access to Honoapiʻilani Highway is limited overnight to residents and first responders.
All the mystery isn't helping anyone.
However, this does not explain why drones are no longer allowed to fly over ground zero to capture footage of the disaster. Many people online are calling this an "intentional media blackout" in order to ensure a "major coverup." But there are some other takes online that show another possible side.
"Honestly, IMO it’s not secrecy. It’s respecting those families still looking for loved ones. People don’t need to go tracking through all the ashes to make money on their Zelle Accounts," @LouAZMerrijul wrote on X.
All the mystery isn't helping anyone, though. Despite the explanations for the black wall going up around ground zero, most people are concerned with the level of secrecy that has shrouded these devastating wildfires.
Evie deserves to be heard. Support our cause and help women reclaim their femininity by subscribing today.