‘Glad to See Her Help’: Oprah Donates Funds and Provides Relief Support Amid Hawaii Wildfires After Facing Backlash for Buying Acres of Land in Maui

Oprah Winfrey is helping Maui residents get the resources they need as a raging wildfire continues to scorch the island. For four days, beginning on Aug. 8, flames have traveled from the small town of Lahaina, leaving remnants of homes, businesses, and burned land.

At least 55 people have been confirmed dead, but the death toll is expected to rise. Another 1,000 individuals have been reported missing. Some of the island’s residents who were evacuated from the burn zone have been provided refuge at the War Memorial Stadium.

Oprah Winfrey donates funds and relief support amid Hawaii wildfires after facing backlash for buying acres of land. (Photos: BBC, CDC/Twitter)

The network mogul visited with those displaced by the natural disaster, finding out exactly what supplies they needed at this time. She told the BBC that the experience was overwhelming. “I came earlier just to see what people needed. I see and then went shopping because often, you know, you make donations of clothes or whatever, and it’s not really what people need.”

Winfrey said she went to Walmart and Costco to purchase pillows, shampoo, diapers, sheets, and pillowcases and helped distribute them. The billionaire media figure owns more than 2,000 acres of land in the popular tourist destination. For two decades, she has been scrutinized for her part-time residency and home ownership.

Critics argue that her latest purchase of 870 acres contributes to the high-cost of living and further fuels tourism, something locals have pushed back against for years. Now, more than ever, people have expressed a desire to see her and other wealthy residents pour back into the community.

“Every wealthy person who has an estate in Hawaii, better open their purses/wallets. It’s nothing for them to completely rehome those people, take care of all of the burial costs, and rebuilding costs for the community,” tweeted one person.

“Not a fan of Oprah’s but glad to see her help. Hope she does a lot more!,” tweeted a second person.

“Oprah (actually showed up BUT NO ONE ELSE DID!) silent amid Maui fires as desperate Hawaii residents beg celebrity billionaires with homes on the island for help,” tweeted a third.

A spokesperson for Winfrey told People she also plans to provide funds that “can be the most helpful for the short-term and long-term rebuilding.”

Other celebrities who own homes on the island include Aerosmith’s Steven Tyler, director-actor Clint Eastwood, actor Owen Wilson, Fleetwood Mac rocker Michael Fleetwood, and Amazon’s Jeff Bezos, according to The New York Post.

In an Aug. 10 press conference, President Joe Biden said, “Every asset we have will be available to them. They’ve seen their homes or businesses destroyed, and some have lost loved ones, and it’s not over yet.” Those assets include federal funding to provide temporary lodging, home repairs, cleanup efforts, and more.

TMZ reports that boxing champion Floyd Mayweather has also flown more than 60 families to Honolulu to provide them with hotel lodging, food, and clothing in partnership with H+M.

“That’s how you use your wealth. bless him,” wrote one fan. Another commented, “That’s how real celebrities make an impact and don’t brag about it either. Love Floyd.”

California Governor Gavin Newsom also announced the Golden State would be sending search and rescue teams. Several reports say the devastation was fueled by Category 4 Hurricane Dora’s winds, low humidity levels, a decline in rainfall, and dry lands.

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