Jeff Bezos and Lauren Sanchez Commit $100 Million to Maui Wildfire Relief

The fires have killed at least 80 people

Wildfire aftermath in Maui
Destroyed buildings and homes in the aftermath of a wildfire in Lahaina, western Maui, Hawaii on August 11, 2023.
PAULA RAMON/AFP via Getty Images

Reports out of Maui in the aftermath of devastating wildfires have been chilling. As the New York Times reports, at least 80 people have died to date as a result of the wildfires — and around 1,000 people were missing from the region. It’s an unabashedly terrible occurrence — both in its own right and in what it might anticipate in terms of future disasters along similar lines.

The cost of rebuilding Maui will be steep — more on that in a moment — but one of the planet’s wealthiest individuals and his partner have committed to contributing to relief efforts. On August 11, 2003, Lauren Sánchez announced on Instagram that she and Jeff Bezos — the couple became engaged earlier this year — would contribute $100 million to the cause. Sánchez is also, as GeekWire noted, the vice chair of the Bezos Earth Fund.

Sánchez’s post announcing the amount didn’t offer many specifics on how the money would be used. “Jeff and I are creating a Maui Fund and are dedicating $100 million to help Maui get back on its feet now and over the coming years as the continuing needs reveal themselves,” she wrote.

What’s It Like to Hike Through Wildfire-Ravaged Mountains?
Walking outdoors a year and a half after the Bobcat Fire

$100 million is not a small number — but it’s also worth noting that FEMA’s estimate of the total cost required to rebuild affected areas of West Maui puts the figure at over $5.5 billion. Bezos and Sánchez’s $100 million will go a long way — but it’s only one part of a much larger effort to restore the buildings and infrastructure lost in the fires.

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