Maui Update: Volume vs. Velocity

Roughly 14,000 residents of west Maui have been seriously impacted by recent wildfires, ranging from total property-loss to sudden death. More than 100 deaths have been confirmed while it is widely assumed many more were killed in the conflagration. There are now 388 who have been validated as missing (updated estimates here). More than 10,000 have registered with FEMA for individual assistance (here). Maui’s total population is about 165,000.

As of yesterday, over 2900 people continue in emergency housing (hotels, Airbnb, and related, more and more and more). Many others are residing with family or friends. Rebuilding of housing stock will be complicated, delayed, extended, and expensive. At least 1500 residential properties have been destroyed, out of about 73,000 in Maui County. A significant portion of emergency housing has been secured using hotels and timeshares within one to two miles north of the Lahaina burn zone.

Unsafe Water Advisories continue for Lahaina, Upper Kula, and some other areas. Initial testing for dangerous chemicals has been undertaken (results). Further testing needs to be completed before public water system flows can support human hydration. Even bathing and cleaning should be avoided if possible (more). Both bulk and bottled potable water are being otherwise distributed.

Retail grocery outlets, including Foodland, Safeway, and Walmart are open and operating within twenty-miles of fire decimated Lahaina. SNAP benefits for hot food purchases are now authorized. A SNAP benefit to replace food lost in the disaster is available. The Lahaina Safeway survived intact and is ready to reopen when local officials give the okay. The Maui Food Bank has expanded its operations. Maui County and other emergency food/water distribution sites have been active. The Salvation Army, American Red Cross, and other voluntary organizations and individuals have been providing hot foods and other support. (More.)

Cell communications have mostly been restored (here and here). Other network connections have also been deployed (here and here). Here’s the FCC August 25 Communications Status Report.

Just under 1900 customers remain disconnected from the grid. In many cases a structure has not survived to be reconnected. More than 2200 structures have been seriously damaged or destroyed.

As previously posted here, the upstream and midstream supply chains for food, bottled water, and other essential freight have continued to operate and increased flows into Maui since the August 8 disaster (more and more and more).

In terms of Supply Chain Resilience, there is much more volume but much less velocity compared to August 7. Given the distance between Maui and its sources, for example, higher volume food flows are moving at about the same speed as before the disaster. But direction — more to the point, targeting — is much less precise since so many consumers are dispersed and some key nodes (such as the Lahaina Safeway) are not yet reopened.

This is not unusual.  This is typical.  It is common to mistake a velocity-problem for a volume-problem.  But not only do “solutions” for a volume problem not fix velocity, the added volume almost always increases congestion that further degrades velocity (here).  This is such a common mistake it has become close to a principle of Supply Chain Resilience diagnosis and prescription of post-disaster conditions.

Correction/Clarification: For my original post I misunderstood a report on emergency housing. The post above is corrected. The last group shelters (sometimes congregate shelters) have been closed. Displaced people are now housed in a range of facilities that will be paid-for using FEMA and state funding. This housing and financial support will persist for an extended period. Here is a helpful summary from MauiNow: “On Tuesday, Aug. 22, the last of the sheltered wildfire survivors staying at the South Maui Community Park Gymnasium in Kīhei, regained privacy as they were transitioned to longer-term housing. Since Aug. 16, the American Red Cross, Hawaiʻi Emergency Management Agency and the Federal Emergency Management Agency relocated nearly 3,000 survivors of the Maui wildfires from congregate shelters to contracted hotels. In total, more than a dozen hotels and timeshare properties are currently housing more than 4,400 shelter survivors and hotel employee survivors, while some 900 people are booked in Airbnb units. These accommodations will continue to provide meals, casework services, financial recovery resources and other disaster relief assistance.”