The county is also creating an Office of Recovery to address intermediate and longterm disaster recovery needs in the wake of the Aug. 8 wildfire.

Maui Mayor Richard Bissen has created an advisory team of Lahaina residents to meet with him weekly with the goal of ensuring that “the needs and desires of the community are part of discussions and decisions the County is involved in,” according to a news release from his office Wednesday.

“As parents, business owners, compassionate community leaders and residents who have long-standing and generational ties to Lahaina, each member offers a perspective that will help guide key discussions as we purposefully and mindfully go forward,” Bissen said in the release.

Mayor Richard Bissen attended a community meeting in late August at the Kula Community Center to answer concerns about the water system in Kula. (David Croxford/Civil Beat/2023)

The five-person advisory team includes:

  • Archie Kalepa – Lahaina resident whose family dates back nine generations in the West Maui community; inducted in 2012 to the Duke Kahanamoku Foundation’s Hawaii Waterman Hall of Fame; crew member of Hokulea and Hawaiiloa voyaging canoes; leader of Maui Ocean Rescue and Safety; renowned big wave surfer. 
  • Kaliko Storer – Area training and cultural adviser for Hyatt Resorts; Puu Kukui Watershed operations supervisor.
  • Kim Ball – Founder and president of Hi-Tech Maui; Lahainaluna High School wrestling coach since 1980.
  • Laurie DeGama – Owner of Lahaina business No Ka Oi Deli; president of Lahainaluna PTSA; for two generations, her family owned and operated Hop Wo store and bakery in Lahaina.
  • Rick Nava – U.S. Army veteran; president and owner of Lahaina-based MSI Maui; former board member and officer of West Maui Taxpayers Association and the Maui Chamber of Commerce; member of Rotary Club of Lahaina. 

Bissen has also established a new Office of Recovery that will be headed by Josiah Nishita, who has worked in various county for leadership positions for more than a decade, according to the release.

Nishita is currently deputy director of the Department of Management, which oversees the countyʻs 17 departments. 

“Josiah’s experience, leadership skills and genuine care for our community will serve us well as the new Office of Recovery begins to take shape. We are still in the early stage of its formation and once operational, community engagement will be a necessary part of its success. It’s important that our efforts continue to be community led, government supported,” said Bissen.

The Office of Recovery will address intermediate and longterm disaster recovery needs and be the center of coordination for outcomes in community planning, housing, infrastructure, natural, historical and cultural resources, economic resiliency, and health and social service systems. 

Two community informational meetings are now scheduled for those impacted by the wildfire. Information on housing plans, air quality status, support programs, and more will be shared.

The first community informational meeting is Friday at the Lahaina Civic Center, starting at 5 p.m. The second meeting will be held Sunday at the Maui Arts & Cultural Center in Kahului, beginning at 3 p.m.

Civil Beat’s coverage of Maui County is supported in part by a grant from the Nuestro Futuro Foundation.

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