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A plea for Maui residents

More than 2,200 structures have been destroyed or damaged by the fires — about 86% of them residential — Hawaii’s Governor Josh Green announced in a press briefing on Monday, where he said “the scale of the destruction is incredible.”

He also noted that residents should expect it to take a very long time before any new housing can be built to replace burned properties.

For some, that delay in the wake of such destruction will be too difficult to bear — and that sentiment is precisely what some investors and realtors are preying upon, according to the Lahaina resident on TikTok.

“If you are a Maui realtor contributing to that, karma’s gonna come and get you. That is pilau,” the woman said. “And if you are a realtor and … investors are calling you to represent them, I hope you have dignity and aloha and compassion to turn them away and tell them off.”

In a longer version of the clip on the Kāko'o Haleakalā Instagram account, the woman breaks into tears, telling viewers: “I know it’s hard … and it may feel a lot easier to just move to the continent, but we cannot keep displacing our people. We need to make sure you guys can go back home … so just know that we’re going to figure this out.

“Please don’t leave, we’re going to figure this out.”

The emotional clip has already garnered a lot of support — with many commenters pointing out the distasteful timing of the investors’ solicitation, given the fact that hundreds of people are still missing.

“Sad, very sad that these investors would stoop that low when families have lost everything including loved ones,” one TikTok user commented.

Meanwhile on Instagram, one commenter replied: “Those bloodsuckers make me sick. These are [people’s] homes that some have lived in for generations. I find this absolutely disgusting. It's like an ambulance chaser...”

And another wrote: “The local gov needs to do something now. This is purely predatory and should be illegal.”

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Governor Green’s warning

Governor Green held a press briefing on Monday where he said local officials are already trying to combat scammers targeting vulnerable residents who have lost their homes.

“I’ve reached out to the attorney general to explore options to do a moratorium on any sales of properties that have been damaged or destroyed,” he said.

“Moreover, I would caution people that it’s going to be a very long time before any growth, or housing can be built. And so, you would be pretty poorly informed if you try to steal land from our people and then build here.”

He also promised that the state of Hawaii would invest resources to “preserve and protect this land for our people; not for any development, for our people locally.

“Much of what we do is challenged by other laws, federal and otherwise, that don’t let us restrict who can buy in our state. But we can do it deliberately during a crisis, and that’s what we’re doing,” Green added.

“So for my part I will try to allow no one from outside our state to buy any land until we get through this crisis and decide what Lāhainā should be in the future.”

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About the Author

Bethan Moorcraft

Bethan Moorcraft

Reporter

Bethan Moorcraft is a reporter for Moneywise with experience in news editing and business reporting across international markets.

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