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Friday, August 11, 2023

DISASTER: Hawaii Grand Master Appeals For Donations in Maui Devastation

(AP photo)

by Christopher Hodapp

NOTE: This story has been updated on Monday, August 14, 2023, 3:30PM

Wildfires fed by hurricane winds have destroyed a substantial portion of the Hawaiian island of Maui this week. Fires broke out three days ago, partially the result of the annual summer drought combined with high winds from Hurricane Dora, which passed 500 miles south of the island chain. 

As of Friday morning, 55 are reported dead, 12,000 have been forced to evacuate, and more than a thousand people are still unaccounted for. As the fires raced towards the coast, many desperate people were driven to jump into the ocean to escape the onrushing flames. 

Electricity and cell service has been cut off for much of the island, and thousands of homes, businesses, cars and infrastructure are completely burned to the ground in and around the historic town of Lahaina — former capital of the Hawaiian kingdom — at the western end of the island. Currently, six fires remain uncontained – five are in the center of the island.

The White House has officially declared the situation a federal emergency.

Today, MW Dustin T. Verity, Grand Master of the Grand Lodge of Hawaii F&AM, has issued a statement concerning the Maui fire devastation (click image below to enlarge).

It reads, in part:

I hope this message finds you well, though I understand that recent events have left us all with heavy hearts. Last night, our beloved island of Maui was touched by the destructive force of fires that swept through our community, leaving devastation in their wake. It is with a profound sense of sadness that I reach out to each of you today.

During these challenging times, let us come together as a united and resilient Masonic family. Our thoughts and prayers go out to the individuals and families affected by this tragedy. We stand in solidarity with our Brothers and their loved ones who may be grappling with loss, displacement, or uncertainty.

In the true spirit of Freemasonry, let us extend our hands and hearts to offer our support wherever it is needed. While material possessions can be rebuilt, the emotional wounds caused by such events can linger. Let us be beacons of light for our community, providing comfort, compassion, and assistance as we can.

As Brothers of the Craft, let us remember that adversity only strengthens our bonds. Let us also use this moment to reflect on the fragility of life and the importance of being prepared, not just physically, but also in terms of the support systems we offer to one another.

I encourage you to reach out to our Brothers in Maui to express your condolences, offer assistance, or simply let them know that they are not alone in this challenging time. Our Lodge has always been a place of solace and unity, and now more than ever, we have the opportunity to exemplify those principles. Assistance may be provided through Masonic Charities of Hawaii, a 501(c)3 charitable organization, by contacting Very Worshipful Brothers David Gomes, davidgomes@hawaii.rr.com, or Anthony Escasa, anthony.j.escasa@gmail.com.

At this time, I haven't seen any updates concerning specific Masonic lodges or Masons in the devastated areas, although I do have a life-long friend there who was evacuated from her home ahead of the approaching fires. She hasn't been permitted to return just to inspect damage. But tragically, she has been told that looters have already been at work.

The Grand Lodge of Hawaii website does have a link to make donations, but at the time of this writing, the popup window with its 'donate' button doesn't seem to connect to anything — keep re-checking the site, as it has been reported to their webmaster. The official Masonic Charities of Hawaii GoFundMe page is at:


In addition, an Amazon Wish List is evolving, if you prefer to donate supplies to relief efforts:

Masonic Charities of Hawaii is a 501(c)3 non-profit organization.

Also at this time, there has been no announcement of an official Masonic Service Association Disaster Appeal. This post will be updated if that changes.


Latest news is that the death toll has risen to over 100 people, with hundreds still missing. Estimates are that more than 2,500 homes and businesses have been destroyed by the fires last week that were stoked by a combination of the annual summer drought and 80+ mph winds from Hurricane Dora, which passed 500 miles south of the islands. Thousands of people from the western side of Maui remain displaced, and rebuilding will take years to accomplish.

I have not seen specific information about Masons and lodges in the affected areas: please forward any information available to me at hodapp@aol.com

The Masonic Service Association of North America officially opened a Disaster Relief Appeal today on behalf of the Grand Lodge of Hawaii. Click below for that information and to donate through MSA:

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