Residents of fire-stricken Maui have described returning home for the first time since the city of Lahaina was engulfed in flames this week and revealed the true scale of the disaster is far more devastating than imagined.
Longtime resident Todd Hudson was one of the first to witness the aftermath of the deadly wildfire Friday after delivering much needed supplies to the historic town that was also home to his daughter, her husband, and their two-year-old child.
‘It’s worse than you could ever imagine. It looks like a war zone. Everything is gone,’ he told DailyMail.com in an exclusive interview.
Hudson spoke of the heartbreaking scenes as locals began returning home on Friday for the first time since wildfires that have killed at least 55 people reduced large swaths of the historic town to a hellscape of burnt debris.
Longtime resident Todd Hudson shared video footage of the destruction after returning to Lahaina for the first time since it was engulfed in flames
Gabrielle Longhi’s family $4,000-a-night property in Lahaina was known as the Blue Sky Villa which included a custom built meditation tower that miraculously withstood the fire
The resident shared heartbreaking photos showing the only structure that remains of the luxury property after it was reduced to rubble
His daughter Alyssa Sullivan narrowly escaped death after fleeing in her car with her husband, Kevin Sullivan, and their two-year-old son Rome, as flames engulfed their home just minutes after driving away.
Unfortunately, their sweet cat named Willow remains missing.
The blaze is the deadliest US wildfire since 2018 and also highlighted just how ill-equipped the region was for a disaster of this magnitude.
Resident Gabrielle Longhi spoke out after losing her family home turned luxury rental that burned to the ground
‘There was no warning. No sirens. No cell phone alerts. Nothing,’ said Hudson who took extensive video of the aftermath while driving through the once thriving tourist town.
‘People were left to fend for themselves. There was nowhere to go.’
‘There was nothing put in place to prevent what happened,’ he added, while revealing that the island of Maui only has one hundred firefighters.
‘There were no firefighters when it happened because they were battling fires in other areas of the island like upcountry.’
Lahaina is home to many elderly people and sadly Hudson revealed the residents of the Senior Citizen Home may have been inside when the facility burned down.
‘There were dozens and dozens of people who had no other choice but to jump into the water where they remained for up to eight hours waiting for help. Many more perished than survived,’ he said.
‘We already have a huge shortage of housing on the island,’ said Hudson who hopes the devastation will shake up the infrastructure and its tedious housing policies.
Gabrielle Longhi is both heartbroken and angry. She said city officials lagged in their response to the town’s worst disaster in history.
‘It was like Hurricane Katrina with dozens of bodies in the water.’
Gabrielle’s father Bob Longhi opened his famous restaurant Longhi on Lahaina’s Front Street in 1976, but the business sadly did not survive the fires
Todd Hudson with his wife Kathy Janosi Hudson. Hudson was among the first to deliver much needed supplies to the historic town of Lahaina where is daughter lived with her family in their fourth generation home
A view of the charred remains after wildfires engulfed the historic town of Lahaina, Maui on August 9
Hudson, dozens of people had no other choice but to jump into the water where they remained for up to eight hours waiting for help
‘I don’t feel like the true devastation is being told. Nothing is there. It’s just like dust. The banks are gone.’
Gabrielle’s father Bob Longhi opened his famous restaurant Longli on Lahaina’s Front Street in 1976 and quickly became a well known eatery on the island.
The popular spot burned down, along with their family home turned $4,000/night luxury rental on the beachfront.
‘My dad had the first open house in Maui where all the doors were open and a 65-foot lap pool on the ocean. The ceiling in his bedroom could roll back so you could look at the stars at night.’
‘I am getting calls from so many former guests.’
‘The meditation tower is miraculously still standing,’ said Loghi whose home in upcountry Kula remains under threat from another fire started earlier in the week.
‘I know every inch of that house. I never realized that the last time I was there would be the very last time.’
‘I am really mad that the whole town burned. People said there was nobody there to help. Lahaina is the heart of Maui.’
‘With all the tourism this island brings in, you have to wonder where all the money is going.
The natural disaster is on pace to become the deadliest wildfire in recent US history
‘The land is extremely dry and fires happen, there should have been some plan of action. Something put in place.
‘There are so many taxes, yet Maui has always been short changed with services, fire, police, medical.
‘People have been complaining about this for years. There are no hospitals. You have to drive all the way to the other side. Now the hospital is full. I am so glad my dad didn’t see all this.
‘The governor finally called the National Guard. Maui needed help long before it came.
‘There are neighborhoods near Lahaina that did not burn down, but the people living there can’t leave because if they do they can’t go back.
‘They have no power. No cell reception. They are running out of food and water.’
Meanwhile multiple GoFundMe pages have been created, including the Sullivan family who are pictured holding their young son.