The death toll from the wildfires in Hawaii reached 115 last night, authorities said. However, today the story of a survivor, who was forced to spend a week on the coast, without having the opportunity to contact his family, has attracted attention.
Phillip Hudelson survived the fire that burned almost the entire island of Maui.
“I couldn’t believe what I was seeing, everything was burning.”
He fled by motorcycle from the wildfire that began to spread rapidly on Maui and spent several days in difficult conditions in the open environment.
“I didn’t know what to do. I stayed at the beach for a week. I had a lounge chair, in which I slept right after sunset,” he says.
The fires engulfed the community in Lahaina, burning homes and leaving him with no way to contact family.
His sister went to the island of Maui in search of her brother.
“I thought it was better to come here and it was a good decision. I found him here,” says Dana Condrey, sister of survivor Pillip Hudelson.
Their story is a source of hope for others in the difficult recovery efforts of the fire-ravaged island.
President Biden went to Lahaina on Monday, where he spent more than an hour speaking at a meeting with the devastated city’s community.
“The whole country is grieving, supporting you and will do everything possible to help you recover and rebuild the city, while respecting your culture and traditions,” said President Biden.
The first signs of a return to normality have already begun to appear. At a school on the western part of the island of Maui, the new school year began on Monday for about 100 students displaced or affected by the fires. This is a welcome step towards recovery.
Signs of hope continue to emerge amid the grave tragedy that has struck the island.
“I’m happy that I finally managed to contact the family and tell them that I’m fine. I feel blessed. It’s a happy ending,” says survivor Phillip Hudelson.
More than 800 people are still on the list of missing persons.