Part-time Maui resident and full-time benevolent savior Oprah Winfrey was reportedly denied initial entry on Sunday to the War Memorial Complex in Wailuku, where survivors of the Hawaiian wildfires have taken refuge. It would seem that showing up with cameras is what led to her barring. A widely reported statement attributed to the County of Maui stated: “Out of respect for those who have come to seek safety and shelter at emergency shelters, our policy remains that no media are given access. We welcome Oprah to continue to uplift our community’s spirit and give her aloha to victims of the tragic disaster and appreciate her understanding of our policy of no camera crews or reporters in our emergency shelters. Mahalo.”
The Daily Mail reported that about 30 minutes after posting this statement, the county posted an update stating:
To clarify, Oprah was able to visit our shelter and we thank her for instructing media journalists and camera crews to remain outside.
We welcome Oprah to continue to uplift our community’s spirit and give her aloha to victims of the tragic disaster.
Her visit inside of the shelter today was truly heartwarming and we appreciate her understanding of our policy of having no camera crews or reporters accompanying dignitaries and celebrities in our emergency shelters.
Winfrey was pictured at the Wailuku shelter last week delivering “cots, pillows, and toiletries,” according to the caption on the non-profit group Kāko’o Haleakalā’s Instagram.
Winfrey shared her experience visiting the shelter on her Oprah Daily account in a video posted Sunday, saying that what this week taught her is: “When you don’t know what to do, you do whatever you can.”
“At some point I will make a major donation after all of the smoke and ashes have settled here and we figure out what the rebuilding is going to look like,” she said. She described families sharing cots and air mattresses with nothing left to their names, but who are nonetheless grateful to have each other. “Long after the camera crews are gone and the rest of the world has moved on, the rebuilding will just begin,” said Winfrey, promising that, “you’re going to see a lot of phoenix stories rising from the ashes here.”
According to the most recent figures, the death toll of the Maui wildfires has risen to 96.
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