Maui fires: Red Cross volunteers head to Hawaii to help while visitors leave to do the same

Cate Cauguiran Image
Friday, August 11, 2023
Volunteers head to Maui to help as visitors leave to do the same
As the Maui fires death toll rises to 53, American Red Cross volunteers from Illinois are deploying while visitors are leaving, all trying to help.

CHICAGO (WLS) -- As Illinois American Red Cross volunteers gets ready to deploy the first of many volunteers to help in the aftermath of the Maui wildfires, a Chicago couple and their family are getting ready to do their part and leave.

Brian Esterquest, his fiancée and her family are making their way out of Maui, saying leaving is the best thing they can do to help.

How to help Maui fire victims from afar: Organizations and efforts underway

"Left our hotel early this morning to head to the airport and booked a flight to Oahu," he said. "I think the best thing we can do is just make sure we get out of here make sure that the emergency workers can have the space and resources to help those that are truly affected by this disaster."

They originally intended to stay until next week, but now they're trying to do their part to help Maui residents recover. The couple and their family had just spent time in Lahaina a day before the fires ravaged the town.

"When you see images like that, it's tough to think about the people that live there and the businesses that you visited just the day earlier and the smiles on everyone's faces," Esterquest said. "Seeing the images of it completely burned down was quite shocking."

SEE MORE: Maui fire: Lahaina looks like 'bomb' went off, returning travelers from Illinois say

Meanwhile, Paul Bamman is getting ready to leave for Maui to do his part to help as well. The Red Cross volunteer will fly to Hawaii Friday morning.

"Whether it's blankets or toilet paper, paper towel or snacks, water, you name it. Our group will make sure they don't run out of anything," he said.

Bamman said he's planning to spend at least three weeks in Hawaii doing whatever he can to provide help and, more importantly, hope.

"Out there they're experiencing their worst day of their life and the Red Cross is there to help them stand up and help them walk down that path to recovery," he said.

Paul is the first volunteer from Illinois to deploy to Hawaii. He said he expects dozens more from the Midwest region to follow.