BOSTON – Chris and Mary Ricci’s dream vacation to Hawaii went exactly as planned. “We went to Oahu for a week and left for Maui on August 4,” said Chris.
The Braintree family had done it all: snorkeling, ziplining, and playing in the ocean after island hopping last Friday. On Wednesday, it all changed as windswept wildfires came down on the coastal city of Lahaina.
The Ricci’s were on a different part of the island and couldn’t get back to their resort because of the fire.
“We were east of the fires — we didn’t realize the magnitude of what was going on — just trying to find a way back to our hotel,” Chris said.
They were stuck in traffic for three to four hours, not knowing what was going on. In an instant they realized the magnitude of the disaster.
“We could see the fires in the distance, the glow of the fires. We didn’t know where they were spreading. It was hard to get real-time updates,” Chris recalls.
They were trapped in a rental jeep, wondering what to do. Finally, the Ricci’s discovered an evacuation site at a local high school. They went there and have stayed ever since. It has been a hard road, but at the same time they are counting their blessings.
“We are the lucky ones who will hopefully be home at some point tomorrow, but there are a lot of people here whose homes have been lost, they are still looking for loved ones,” Chris noted.
The Ricci’s are supported by the American Red Cross and locals who have been comforting people at the evacuation site. They hope to fly home on Friday, but flights have been postponed and leaving the island delayed.
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