Like any native son of Hawaii who lives and works on the mainland of the United States, Yankees utilityman Isiah Kiner-Falefa is keeping tabs on the tragic situation on the island of Maui.
The Honolulu native said on Saturday that he doesn’t know anyone who was personally affected by the devastating wildfires on Maui that as of Friday’s latest tally had killed 114 people and caused an estimated $6 billion of damage.
But Kiner-Falefa's heart is always with his home state.
“It’s a tough situation,” he said before the Yankees' 8-1 loss to the Red Sox in the Bronx. “It's very sad. I don't know how everything was able to spread the way it did, which is crazy.”
The Aug. 8 fires almost completely gutted the historic city of Lahaina. As many as 2,700 structures were either destroyed or damaged.
A FEMA spokesperson on Wednesday estimated that the number of people unaccounted for was between 1,100 and 1,300.
Relief efforts are underway. Kiner-Falefa, who has donated time and money to other Hawaii causes in the past, said he plans to pitch in once the Yankees’ season is over.
“I want to help out as much as possible,” he said. “Just right now I’m more focused on getting back in this race and helping the team find a way to win games and close this gap. When I get a chance to in the offseason, I'll be able to help. When I was first coming up, I wanted everybody to know what I was doing, and now I figure that it's better to do it quietly. I've been paying attention to it. It's very sad.”
That a disaster of this magnitude could happen on Maui was a shock to Kiner-Falefa.
“It's definitely surprising. Being a part of the U.S., you wouldn't expect anything like that to happen,” he said. “It's pretty concerning. I don't know how you run out of water. Sometimes they run the sirens, and then they don't run the sirens there [during the fires]. It's kind of head-scratching for some things. You’re worried about the people.
“But thankfully, we're part of the U.S. and we'll have the backing from the government, and I think they'll help out a lot. That's a big, big blessing and something that's definitely not taken for granted. Now they're getting a ton of help. It’s bringing the islands together. I've been on social media and just seeing all the support, they're getting a lot of help. It’s just sad that you’ve got to rebuild the whole thing. It’s just sad.”
Twelve professional Los Angeles sports teams have donated $450,000 to Maui fire relief, according to a joint news release issued Thursday.
“Despite California and Hawaii being separated by more than 2,500 miles, the two states are very connected with a robust Hawaiian community calling Southern California home,” the statement said.
The Angels and Dodgers of MLB, the NFL’s Chargers and Rams, the NBA’s Clippers and Lakers, the NHL’s Kings and Ducks, the WNBA's Sparks, the NWSL’s Angel City Football Club and the LA Galaxy and LAFC of MLS will donate to the American Red Cross.
With The Associated Press