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Obama urges people to help his home state of Hawaii after devastating wildfires

Former President Barack Obama, who grew up in Hawaii, is urging people to do everything they can to support efforts to rebuild Maui and Lahaina. ravaged by forest fires.

In an Instagram video posted Monday, Obama said he and former first lady Michelle Obama are heartbroken by the tragic wildfires that devastated Maui, particularly the historic city of Lahaina.

Last week Lahaina, once the capital of Hawaii, was ravaged by the brutal wildfires, which became the deadliest in US history. At least 99 people have died since Monday and more than 1,000 people are still missing. Some people jumped into the water to escape the fire that swept through the city.

“As someone who grew up in Hawaii, as someone who took my family to enjoy the incredible beauty of that island and the hospitality of the people of Lahaina, we now find ourselves mourning the lives lost and our thoughts and prayers go out to the families who have lost so much,” Obama said. “The point, however, is that thoughts and prayers at a time like this are not enough.”

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“We have to step up and we have to help those families and we have to help Lahaina rebuild,” he said, adding that the Hawaiian Red Cross and Malama are mobilizing Maui to help those in need.

The Red Cross teamed up with local TV and radio stations in Hawaii to hold a telethon called Malama Maui on August 14 to raise money for the Hawaiian Red Cross, which supports those affected by the fires. Malama is a Hawaiian word meaning “to take care of.”

The Red Cross continues to accept online donations for this cause.

The former president urged people to do all they can to support Malama Maui’s efforts. “If all of us, the Ohana [family]working together and doing as much as we can to give back to an island and a city and people who have given us so much, I have every confidence that Lahaina and Maui and those families will be able to rebuild.

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Barack Obama escorts Laura Kong during the graduation ceremony at Punahou School in May 1979 in Honolulu, Hawaii.

/Getty Images

Obama was born on August 4, 1961 in Hawaii. His parents met there when his father, Barack Sr., and mother, Stanley Ann Dunham, were both college students. He also lived in Indonesia for part of his childhood, but returned to Honolulu before fifth grade to live with his grandparents.

He attended Punahou School, a prep school in Honolulu, on a scholarship. He left Hawaii for college, and after building his career from community organizer to lawyer to senator and eventually president, he continued to return to Hawaii with his family each year for the winter vacations.

In 2008, he became the first US president to be born in Hawaii. His grandmother, Madelyn Dunham, died at the age of 86 on November 3, 2008 – the day before he was elected president. In December of that year, he returned to Hawaii to scatter her ashes on the shoreline.

The Obama Hawaiian Africana Museum, which honors the former president’s birthplace and African American history in Hawaii, also urged people to donate to the Hawaii Community Foundation’s Maui Strong fund, which raises money for communities affected by the fires have been affected.

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