Maui Fire Recovery
By Joy Smith
FieldHaven is one week into the fire zone in the town of Lahaina in Maui. I’ll be sharing our journey directly since I’m helping to lead the rescue team, along with Karen Phillips of PDX Cat Trapper, Maui Humane Society (MHS), and Neighborhood Cats. Our goal? Keep the fire cats alive with hope and full bellies while setting the stage to get each and every one of them out of the fire zone to safety, whether that’s reuniting them with their families, taking them to shelters or rescues, or relocating them to other places – as long as it gives them the life they deserve.
Day one was repurposing existing space at MHS to allow housing for more fire cats. At the end of the day, 27 recovered community cats were in more comfortable housing.
Days two and three were checking, restocking and setting up more than 25 feeding stations through Lahaina. This is the first step towards rescuing cats after a fire.
Why? Even amid the destruction of their home space, cats will often stay nearby their homes. But if there is an extended time without food sources they will begin to migrate away from the area in search of food.
With cats scattered all over a 5+ square mile area of the burn zone, they must be gathered by creating feeding stations. These stations will pepper the burn area, even in areas where the wildfire randomly skipped over homes. It’s a daunting task to get the whole zone set up with stations, and they need to be maintained and managed.
Because of serious space limitations at MHS we are targeting cats for trapping. Only those cats who need medical attention, are looking frail, have known owners or just need to get out of the burn, are trapped.
Until a space is found to house the recovery center, we’ll continue to keep the kitties who are in the burn area well fed and ensure they have fresh water. In the meantime, we are learning from the cats. Their location, their behavior, who they are.
We are spending 8-10 hours in the five square mile burn zone each day. Traversing every road, every street, every alley way, starting at about 4 pm and finally leaving around 1 am. We monitor existing feedings stations and set up new stations where we spot cats or sightings have been reported.
After dark as we drive between feeding stations, our eyes are constantly searching for “eye shine”, that unmistakable glow of cats’ eyes as a beam of light hits them.
We estimate there are 400 to 500 cats needing rescue from the zone. One location we discovered yesterday has 40-50! Bringing all these cats out of zone can’t happen overnight, and while working with the teams at MHS and Neighborhood Cats we are getting so much accomplished, we have miles and miles to go.
This is a HUGE project.
If you want to see and hear more:
- Watch a Facebook video here (and meet Maui the kitten)
- Listen to an interview with Kitty O’Neal, of KFBK News Radio here
- Follow our Facebook and Instagram pages
- As far as how you can help, here’s a special link for our Maui Cat Team. This will also directly benefit a few cats who (shhh, don’t tell anyone) will probably come back with us at some point.
And thank you for your support. It takes a village and with our fire rescue expertise team, we’re going to go a long way to helping victims in Maui.