In a surprising turn of events, media mogul Oprah Winfrey and a CBS news team were refused entry to an emergency refuge in Maui, Hawaii, following the devastating wildfires that ravaged the town of Lahaina. This decision was influenced by the County of Maui’s policy to prohibit media access to such facilities to maintain the privacy and security of the displaced residents.
The County of Maui issued a statement expressing their decision to uphold the no-media policy for the emergency shelters. They conveyed their appreciation for Oprah’s efforts to uplift the community’s spirit but emphasized their commitment to protect the privacy of the victims of the calamitous disaster.
On a Sunday morning, Winfrey, along with a CBS camera crew, were turned away from the shelter. They were informed that their entry was prohibited due to the no-media policy in place.
Intriguingly, earlier in the week, Winfrey was permitted to record in the shelter alongside a BBC crew. The reason for this exception remains unclear.
The resort town of Lahaina was essentially leveled by the ferocious wildfire. Images of burnt homes and buildings highlight the extent of the disaster. The death toll from the fires climbed to 93 by Sunday.
Despite the controversy surrounding her denied access, Winfrey’s charitable endeavors for the victims of the disaster are commendable. During her visit to the War Memorial Stadium in Wailuku, which serves as a shelter for the evacuees, she distributed necessary supplies to the survivors.
Winfrey is a part-time resident of Maui and owns approximately 1,000 acres of land on the island. The status of her property following the wildfires remains uncertain. Her impressive real estate portfolio includes hundreds of acres in the Kula area southeast of Lahaina, according to the New York Times.
Oprah Winfrey is not the only celebrity with a residence in Maui. The island also hosts prominent figures like Jeff Bezos, Steven Tyler, Owen Wilson, Clint Eastwood, and Mick Fleetwood part-time.
Following the disaster, numerous donations and recovery efforts were launched. Among the contributors, Jeff Bezos and Lauren Sanchez pledged a significant $100 million for the recovery initiatives in Maui.