Media mogul Oprah Winfrey distributed supplies at a shelter for wildfire evacuees in Maui as deadly wildfires sweep the Hawaiian island.
Officials announced the death toll has risen to 96 people after a fire began destroying parts of Maui last Tuesday. It is now considered the deadliest U.S. wildfire in over a century.
Winfrey has lived part-time in Maui for 15 years, and recently purchased 870 acres of land on the island, adding to the 100 acres she had already owned.
Oprah was recorded volunteering at Maui’s Ware Memorial Complex, which is sheltering evacuees.
She discussed her visit on the Oprah Daily Instagram account and pledged to contribute to recovery efforts.
“You know what this week has taught me is that when you don’t know what to do…you do whatever you can,” Winfrey shared. “I went to visit one of the big shelters here at the War Memorial [Stadium] and asked people what it is they needed and then went shopping for some things, some, you know, basic things like towels and sheets and shampoo and other necessities.”
Hawaiians had been urging against tourism in the state for years, given then increases in overcrowding and displacement that residents say are unsustainable.
As one Hawaiian activist shared with Lonely Planet, “People hop on a plane, come here and visit all these sites, drink all of our limited water, and fuel into this capitalist economy that’s building condos for them instead of housing for us and building resorts for them instead of agricultural land for us – and [they’re not seeing] the implications of that,” she says.
Residents have also asked that wealthy landowners– who also include Jeff Bezos and Pay Pal founder Peter Thiel– contribute amid the devastation.
The National Weather Service said Hurricane Dora contributed to strong winds that “initially drove the flames, knocking out power and grounding firefighting helicopters.”
The fire has destroyed the historic town of Lahaina, which is home to over 60 historic sites.