Oprah Winfrey has announced she will make a “major donation” to help rebuild Maui after the island was devastated by catastrophic wildfires. At least 93 people have been killed by wildfires on the Hawaiian island of Maui, with hundreds of families still searching for news about their loved ones. The tragic blazes have become the deadliest wildfires in US history.
Oprah, 69, has already visited some of those affected by the wildfires and provided essential donations such as diapers, shampoo, and pillows. She has now pledged to help fund the rebuilding of Maui. Oprah is said to be one of the richest self-made women in America, with an estimated net worth of $ 2.5 billion (£ 1.9 billion).
In a video shared on Instagram, she said: “Hey everybody, you know what this week has taught me is that when you don’t know what to do, you do whatever you can.” Oprah then explained: “I will make a major donation after all of the smoke and ashes have settled here and we figure out what the rebuilding is gonna look like.”
She said the people of Maui face a “long and difficult process”. However, she said she has met some “incredible people” during her visit to the island’s shelters.
Oprah met one man named Julius who had bandages on his legs after trying to escape the wildfires. She explained: “He said to me he could feel his skin popping as he was running. He got out of his car because the tires were melting and he couldn’t move forward and he just started to run.”
When Oprah asked Julius what supplies he needed, he gave a very brave reply. He told her: “Ma’am I need nothing. My life is now my greatest gift. I have my life.”
Oprah visited evacuees at the War Memorial Gymnasium in Maui to show her support. She said she saw families sharing an air mattress with nothing else left to their names.
However, she added: “But they are so grateful just to have each other and there is such an incredible spirit going on in this entire community, people helping other people. And I know that long after all the camera crews are gone and the rest of the world has moved on, the rebuilding will just begin.”
Ending her video, Oprah said: “With help and support, you’re going to see a lot of phoenix stories rising from the ashes here.” She did not reveal exactly how much she is planning to donate.
Oprah has been living in Maui part-time for more than 15 years. She is one of the island’s biggest private landholders, owning more than 2,000 acres of land in Kula and Hana. It’s currently unclear if any of her land has been damaged by the wildfires.
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