As officials in Hawaii work to determine the identities of the over 100 people who died in the Maui wildfires, the community fears children will make up a large part of the death toll.
When the fast-moving wildfires broke out on August 8, many children were home from school because the dangerous winds of a hurricane off the coast of Hawaii forced school closures.
Jessica Sill, an elementary school teacher at Lahaina King Kamehameha III, told the Wall Street Journal that she fears some children were home alone the day of the fires.
"Our parents work one, two, three jobs just to get by and they can’t afford to take a day off. Without school, there was nowhere for [kids] to go that day," she said.
But with no warning that fires near Lahaina were about to engulf the town, there was no time for people to conduct orderly evacuations to keep track of children and ensure they got to safety first.
Sill added that two of her former students lost a seven-year-old cousin, who was found alongside his family in a burned-out car. She also said that she's worried about the students who survived and how they'll be able to process the trauma of the tragedy.
Data from Hawaii authorities shows that at least 115 people died in the fire that totally consumed Lahaina. The number of deaths is expected to rise significantly, as authorities have only thoroughly searched around 38 percent of the disaster zone.
State Rep. Elle Cochran, a Democrat who represents West Maui, including Lahaina, said she expects the final death toll to be at least several hundred people.
According to HIDOE, of the 3,001 students initially enrolled across four schools in the Lahaina public school system, 538 have already re-enrolled in other public schools and another 438 have enrolled in the State Distance Learning Program.
This leaves 2,025 students unaccounted for. They have not re-enrolled in other public schools or opted for distance learning for the time being. State officials note that many may have moved out of state or enrolled in private schools. (Related: Over 2,400 kids are missing in Maui, but aren't included in the government's death toll.)
The four schools comprise two elementary, one intermediary and one high school. They have been closed due to extensive damage caused by the fire. One elementary school was damaged so severely that it is unlikely to reopen soon, while the others have suffered significant damage from winds, debris and soot.
Private schools in Maui are also impacted. Maui Preparatory Academy received about 1,000 new applications and reshuffled its campus to accommodate 110 new students, a 40 percent enrollment increase. Sacred Heart School, with about 200 students, was destroyed by the fire.
Watch this Fox report about the many missing individuals after the Lahaina disaster.
This video is from the Daily Videos channel on Brighteon.com.