Jeff Masters Weather Blog

‘People were scared.’ How a maternal care nonprofit stepped up for families after Maui’s wildfires » Yale Climate Connections

Last summer, wildfires roared across part of Hawaii’s Maui Island. In the town of Lahaina, the fires destroyed more than 2,000 homes and buildings.

Smith-Johnson: “People had to leave all of their belongings and leave literally with the clothes on their back. And as you’re thinking about someone who’s preparing for birth, who just had a child and in their immediate postpartum, or in the throes of postpartum, what does that look like?”

Tanya Smith-Johnson is a certified midwife and the policy director for the Healthy Mothers, Healthy Babies Coalition of Hawaii — a maternal care nonprofit.

Her team sprang into action to help those who were dealing with the fires while also preparing to go into labor or caring for a newborn.

Smith-Johnson: “Life continues to happen, even in a disaster.”

The group shipped their mobile medical van from Honolulu to Maui so they could help provide prenatal care, lactation support, and supplies — including diapers, breast pumps, and infant formula.

Smith-Johnson: “That was huge. People were scared whether they’ll even be able to feed their babies.”

And as climate change brings more frequent and severe disasters, there will be more times when new and expecting parents need help caring for and protecting their babies and themselves.

Reporting credit: Sarah Kennedy / ChavoBart Digital Media

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