Fire: Cape Verdean surfer in Hawaii says he “lost everything” in the city that “turned to gray”

Cape Verdean José Rui da Cruz revealed to Inforpress that he is still in shock over the fires and the “tragedy” that hit the North American island of Maui, in the Hawaiian archipelago, where he lives.

Aug 14, 2023 - 06:21
Sep 2, 2023 - 17:40
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Fire: Cape Verdean surfer in Hawaii says he “lost everything” in the city that “turned to gray”
Fire: Cape Verdean surfer in Hawaii says he “lost everything” in the city that “turned to gray”

Known as Zé Rui Surfista de Santa Maria, the interviewee from Agência Inforpress, by telephone from Mindelo, said that he lost everything and that the part of the island where he lived, Lahaina, “the heart and tourist center of Hawaii”, was reduced to ashes.

“This hurricane surprised everyone here, because it was supposed to pass far away, but on the night of Monday, the 7th, it affected the island, we were left without electricity and under an extremely strong wind”, said Zé Rui.

The next day, Tuesday, the 8th, the wind continued even more strongly, day and night, knocking down power poles, houses caught fire and the fire spread throughout that part of the city of Lahaina.

“It was a surprise, nobody expected to go through what we are going through right now”, launched the surfer, who has been living in Hawaii for a year and a half, to make a career as a 'waterman', because he wants to be a boat captain, like he said.

Zé Rui said that at the time of the fire, on Tuesday, the 8th, he was on his way to some friends' house, 15 minutes from his residence, after a "poor sleep" night, in the middle of a strong wind, which knocked trees and streetlights.

“I lost my house, the warehouse where I kept the boats and various other kitesurfing materials, boats, my friends' houses, everything burned, many deaths, a tragedy,” he told Inforpress.

“We are still experiencing the shock of what happened, but the perspective is to endure because we had a good job, now it is to wait for government aid and move forward, because the most important thing is that we are alive and healthy”, he concluded. .

The international press pointed to 93 deaths by Sunday, 13, but Zé Rui says that the number will increase "and a lot".

“Anyway, Hawaii is big, with several islands, I live in Maui, and what was destroyed was part of the city of Lahaina, but everyone is helping, the community is united in sending food and to do volunteer work to help”, he considered, with hope.

“The message I send is to live in the moment, always thank God for the daily bread we have because from one moment to the next everything can change in your life”, concluded Zé Rui Surfista, hoping that “better days will come ” and that “the worst is over”.

The international press reported on Sunday, the 12th, that official entities in Hawaii predict that, as searches continue in the devastated areas, more victims will be found.

Two of Maui's three fires are still burning, according to the latest report by the county, which has so far only been able to verify the identity of two of the 93 confirmed victims.

Local police stressed that the process will be lengthy as a genetic or dental check is required.

The governor of Hawaii, Josh Green, said that the fires are already the “biggest natural disaster that Hawaii has ever experienced”, according to CNN, surpassing the 61 confirmed deaths following a tsunami in 1960.

Before Hawaii became a state in 1959, a tsunami in 1946 killed 158 people.

The governor also estimated material losses at around US$6 billion (about €5.5 billion).

“If you look at what you see now in West Maui, 2,200 structures were destroyed or damaged, 86% are residential,” Green said.

According to local authorities, more than 14,000 people were evacuated from the island of Maui on Wednesday, while about 14,500 were displaced to other nearby islands on Friday.

Lahaina Mayor Richard Bissen said 80 percent of the archipelago's former capital, and one of Hawaii's most popular tourist areas, was completely destroyed by the flames from Hurricane Dora.

These fires are the deadliest in the USA in more than 100 years, surpassing the Camp Fire, in the state of California, which caused 85 deaths and reduced the city of Paradise to ashes.

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