State warns affected Maui homeowners to beware of unsolicited offers

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UPDATE: 7:30 p.m.

State officials are warning homeowners affected by the Maui wildfires to beware of predatory buyers trying to capitalize upon the fear of foreclosure or the cost of rebuilding to induce owners to sell their properties at below-market prices.

Homeowners should be skeptical if they receive unsolicited communications about their properties, they said. And they should alert the state Department of Commerce and Consumer Affairs’ Office of Consumer Protection and the Regulated Industries Complaints Office.

“The Office of Consumer Protection has been vigilant about protecting vulnerable homeowners. The public is encouraged to immediately contact us with any concerns and questions,” Mana Moriarty, executive director of the Office of Consumer Protection, said in a news release. “Any reported instances of misconduct will be investigated, and if confirmed, wrongdoers will be prosecuted to the full extent of the law. Illegal conduct and those seeking to take advantage of those most vulnerable will not be tolerated.”

Prospective buyers may or may not be licensed professionals and may withhold or misrepresent vital information and details during a transaction, officials said. Realtors are prohibited from making misrepresentations, false promises, and engaging in fraudulent or dishonest dealings. RICO works with the Real Estate Commission to regulate real estate licensees.

Members of the public receiving unsolicited offers should report the name, place of business, telephone number, and address of any person to DCCA’s Consumer Resource Center at 808-587-4272.

5:20 p.m.

Hawaiian Electric says it has restored power to about 80% of the customers who have been without electricity since Tuesday, with about 2,400 customers still without power.

The company said crews are working to restore about 100 customers in Upcountry and about 2,300 customers in West Maui.

In West Maui, the focus continues to be safely restoring areas that provide essential public services as well as facilities serving first responders and the emergency response efforts , including water, wastewater, gas stations, and hotels that will become temporary shelters, the company said in a news release.

At a news conference on Maui today, Hawaiian Electric president and CEO Shelee Kimura said over 400 Maui utility poles have been damaged or destroyed. In addition, the company said 300 out of 575 transformers are visibly damaged, and the Lahaina substation was destroyed.

4:27 p.m.

The South Korean government has become the first foreign government to offer support in Maui relief efforts. The Republic of Korea’s Honolulu Consulate told the Star-Advertiser that its government is pledging $2 million worth of aid to Hawaii. Read more.

4:15 p.m.

The state Department of Health’s Maui District Health Office, with local partners, has opened a health clinic in West Maui to assist individuals directly impacted by the devastating wildfires.

The main clinic will be at the Comprehensive Health Center on Akoakoa Place, located below the Lahaina Civic Center. Clinic services will include general wound care and first aid, pharmacy services, mental health services and other general health care. The clinic will be open daily from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.

No appointment is necessary and insurance is not required. Mobile services operating out of the main clinic will also be available where care is needed and requested, DOH said. Call 808-984-8201 or 808-984-8260 for more information.

3:36 p.m.

Gov. Josh Green confirmed the death toll from the Maui wildfires has climbed to 99, the deadliest in the U.S. in more than a century.

Click on this link to watch.

At a news conference from Maui this afternoon, Green said over 200 families have already been placed in temporary housing.

Maui Police Chief John Pelletier said MPD will begin releasing names of the dead who have been identified.

Shelee Kimura, president and CEO of Hawaiian Electric Co., said over 400 utility poles have been damaged or destroyed by last week’s firestorm.

2:14 p.m.

Lt. Gov. Sylvia Luke announced today that a storage warehouse in Kahului owned by the Department of Accounting and General Services will be repurposed as a storage facility to store, sort and inventory donated goods and supplies as part of Maui relief efforts.

Officials said they are identifying other properties on Maui and other islands for disaster relief purposes. Luke said the coordinated effort among federal, state and county agencies will assist in distributing supplies more efficiently to the community.

“We don’t want to turn anything away,” Luke said, referring to the many donation drives that have been held since the fires broke out Tuesday. She said the supplies are needed now and well into the future.

Meanwhile, A&T spokesperson Elizabeth Songvilaynes says the company has donated loaner Motorola phones with free unlimited AT&T service to ensure that Maui victims can contact their loved ones. A&T officials are still working to restore service in West Maui and other affected areas, but did not provide a timeline.

12:45 p.m.

The Lahaina wildfire death toll is now 99, up three from late Sunday night, and Gov. Josh Green warned that the tally will go up “very significantly” in the coming days.

Green told CNN this afternoon that most of the first 80 confirmed deaths were found in and around cars on Front Street or in the water nearby.

The governor also said that hundreds of unaccounted for people still haven’t “checked in,” but he noted that there are still communication problems on the island and many people who fled the fast-moving inferno may have lost their phones in the process.

Once again, Green stressed the importance of staying out of the restricted areas of Lahaina so FEMA and other search crews can continue their work of finding the remains of victims.

As for the ultimate death toll, he said, “I don’t want to guess at the number.”

11:30 a.m.

The Maui Police Department announced as of about 11:22 a.m. today that the placard program for travel into West Maui has been suspended due to overwhelming demand from “non-essential individuals” and non-Maui residents.

The suspension is in place until further notice.

Maui County officials had initially announced the placards would be distributed to residents today who could show a driver’s license or state ID with a West Maui address or other proof of residency, with access to begin 5 p.m. Tuesday.

They were also to be issued to West Maui resort workers; first responders and medical personnel; utility workers; county workers; supply transport personnel; and volunteers.

The U.S. Coast Guard, meanwhile, has shifted its focus to minimizing maritime environmental impacts from the Maui fires.

The Coast Guard has deployed pollution response teams and equipment to affected locations, including a 100-foot boom at the mouth of the Lahaina Harbor, to contain potentially hazardous contaminants and materials.

“While the Coast Guard is always postured for search and rescue operations, we are also focused on minimizing maritime environmental impacts as a result of the Maui fires,” said Deputy Incident Commander Kyra Dykeman in a news release. “We reaffirm our unwavering commitment to the community we serve.”

A safety zone has been established from Wahikuli Wayside Park to Launiupoko Beach Park, extending one nautical mile seaward from the shoreline.

Mariners with questions regarding the transit of the safety zone, owners of vessels impacted by the Lahaina fires, and reports of pollution in and around Lahaina Harbor should call 808-723-0008.

The Coast Guard said it remains ready to respond to any new reports of individuals in the water.


As state, and federal, donations and other aid flow into Maui today, searchers with cadaver-sniffing dogs continue to comb through the rubble of thousands of incinerated buildings in Lahaina.

The confirmed death toll rose by three to 96 Sunday night and Gov. Josh Green warned that many more people could be found dead over the next week in what is already the most deadly U.S. wildfire in over a century. Many hundreds have not been accounted for.

“We are prepared for many tragic stories,” Green told “CBS Mornings” today. “They will find 10 to 20 people per day, probably, until they finish. And it’s probably going to take 10 days. It’s impossible to guess, really.”


>> VIDEO: FEMA administrator gives update on Maui

>> Maui families provide DNA to help ID remains of fire victims

>> Attorneys aim to make Hawaiian Electric pay for Maui disaster

>> Residents recount harrowing tales in Lahaina, Upcountry

>> High winds, invasive grasses fueled Hawaii fires during past hurricanes

>> Gov. Green warns scores more could be found dead on Maui

The state today opens its Hawaii Fire Relief Housing program to connect Maui residents displaced by wildfires with property owners statewide who can provide shelter as soon as possible.

Property owners with available rooms, dwelling units, houses and other accommodations on Maui and throughout Hawaii are welcome to join the program, which will serve affected Maui residents, according to today’s announcement by Gov. Josh Green and the Hawaii Housing Finance and Development Corporation.

Program application forms are scheduled to go live at 8 a.m. Monday on HHFDC’s website,, a news release said.

A list of available properties should be posted online by Tuesday , it said.

For those without internet access, a telephone hotline (808-587-0469) is set to start taking calls Monday from landlords, property managers, homeowners or displaced residents who have questions or need assistance. HHFDC staff will answer calls from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. daily, the news release said.

The public also may email staff at once the program launches, and responses to frequently asked questions will be posted to the website.

The program, which will remain active indefinitely, is designed to serve as a referral service. It will be up to displaced residents and participating landlords and rental agents to reach terms on rental arrangements; neither party will be under any obligation to accept an agreement.

More than 250 personnel from the Federal Emergency Management Agency have deployed to Hawaii since Tuesday’s wildfires, including 45 Disaster Survivor Assistance staff who are visiting Maui shelters to help survivors register for assistance, FEMA said Sunday.

Also Sunday, Green has issued the fifth Emergency Proclamation relating to the ongoing devastation created by the wildfires on Maui and in Hawaii counties. The fifth proclamation suspends additional laws to facilitate emergency response, recovery, and rebuilding, a news release said. It confirms that health care facilities and professionals engaging in emergency response are immune from civil liability during the proclamation period, except for willful misconduct, gross negligence, or recklessness.

The proclamation also allows pharmacists to refill prescriptions for people directly affected by the wildfire emergency with up to a 30-day supply, even when the pharmacist is unable to obtain refill authorization from the prescriber, the release said. It also lifts a $10 million cap on expenditures from the Major Disaster Fund to respond to this emergency and discourages nonessential travel to West Maui to free up accommodations for displaced residents and emergency workers.

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