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Colorado woman organizing effort to help hometown devastated by wildfires in Hawaii

Lisa Arcangel's hometown of Lahaina will take years to rebuild, officials say
Maui wildfire leaves 36 dead, hundreds of buildings destroyed
Posted at 4:57 PM, Aug 11, 2023

DENVER — A Colorado woman from Hawaii is organizing an effort to help the community she grew up in, after seeing the devastation caused by the ranging wildfires that have killed at least 59 people and left a historic town in ruins.

“It's just very surreal. It's very apocalyptic,” said Lisa Arcangel, a native of Lahaina and a coach at Alpine CrossFit in Wheat Ridge, about the destruction in her hometown.

Hawaii officials said much of Lahaina, which is located on the island of Maui, was destroyed, adding it will take years to rebuild.

“Everything's burnt to the ground. It's so sad to see,” said Arcangel.

She said her family barely escaped, with just the clothes on their backs. Members of her family even got separated from one another as they rushed to safety. Her cousin even saw people jumping into the water to escape the flames.

“No one had time to even grab anything,” said Arcangel. “Everything just happened so quickly. Everything's so surreal right now that I don't even know how to wrap my head around that.”

She said her aunt was burned badly but will be okay.

“My dad wanted to stay and refused to evacuate,” said Arcangel. “He stayed thinking that, you know, he wanted to protect the house as well, but quickly realized that he [couldn’t].”

With the help of her CrossFit family in Colorado and friends in other parts of the country, Arcangel is spearheading a donation drive for her family and others in Lahaina.

They’re asking for essentials like food, diapers, and toothpaste. They’re also asking for camping supplies.

Colorado woman organizing effort to help hometown devastated by wildfires in Hawaii

“Obviously, they don't have homes or roof over their head, so camping gear is the number one thing,” said Arcangel.

The supplies can be dropped off at Alpine CrossFit in Wheat Ridge, located at 12090 W. 50th Place.

Arcangel also set up a GoFundMe account for people wishing to donate money to the effort. More than $15,000 was donated in less than 24 hours.

“This community has done wonders,” said Arcangel. “There's not enough words to describe the love and support that I've gotten from them.”

It’s the kind of support Arcangel said she grew up with in Hawaii. She even has it symbolized in her tattoos.

“You're not a stranger in their eyes. And that's with Hawaii in general, but Lahaina especially,” said Arcangel.

It’s the kind of hospitality she hopes will help rebuild her beloved hometown.

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