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Maine pastor living in Maui helps with wildfire recovery


By Norah Hogan

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    MAUI COUNTY, Hawaii (WMTW) — With the wildfires in Maui now 80% contained as of Thursday, islanders are left to grapple with devastating losses.

Maine native Matt Brunk is helping with the recovery efforts.

“We’re going to be in this for the next week at least, before we begin to really get a full picture,” said Brunk.

Brunk grew up in Limington, Maine. He moved to Maui to work as a pastor in 2020 and it’s become his home.

“It truly is just a love for one another on our island that is unlike any other place that I’ve been to,” said Brunk.

As of Thursday, the wildfires have been burning for three days, leaving 53 dead and many more still missing. It appears to be the second deadliest fire in the U.S. in a century. It’s destroyed the historic town of Lahaina, but some sections of the island have been spared.

“You look at the mountain and you think, complete destruction has happened over there and we’re not able to see it yet,” said Brunk.

Brunk and his family live in the center of Maui, near the airport. The area has become a safe haven.

“We’re just doing all we can to just show that support and just be boots on the ground, where we can, have meaningful conversation, give a listening ear and share hope as we have opportunity,” said Brunk.

With upwards of 1,700 buildings destroyed, survivors are left with nothing, but Brunk says that the community has been resilient, coming together to help one another in the face of destruction.

“We call it the Aloha spirit and it is truly that,” said Brunk.

His church, Haumāna, is raising money for recovery efforts.

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