Oprah Winfrey’s TV crew denied entry to Maui’s Wildfire shelter for survivors

Former talk show host and part-time Maui resident left filming crew outside when visiting Wailuku shelter

Nicole Vassell
Monday 14 August 2023 09:38 BST
Oprah Winfrey hands out supplies to those impacted by Maui wildfires

Oprah Winfrey was thanked by a Maui shelter for those affected by wildfires after instructing a news camera crew to wait outside while she visited.

The entertainment mogul and former talk show host, 69, has been providing aid for those in need after wildfires severely impacted areas in Hawaii last week.

As of Monday morning (14 August), the death toll had risen to 93 making the blaze the deadliest in American history.

Winfrey, who has lived in Maui part-time for more than 15 years, and owns around 1,000 acres of land on the island, has provided supplies at shelters.

However, when she attempted to enter on Sunday morning (13 August), she was initially prevented from entering with a camera crew from CBS News, as it was against the policy of having media reports from inside the emergency facilities.

After instructing the camera crew to wait outside, Winfrey was then allowed inside.

A Facebook post from the County of Maui’s official page reads: “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.”

Previous reports captured Winfrey’s experience helping out at the War Memorial Shelter in Wailuku.

“I’m really pleased to have so many people supporting... bringing what they can and doing what they can,” she explained on Thursday (10 August), after admitting that it was an “overwhelming” time.

Oprah Winfrey
Oprah Winfrey (BBC)

“I came earlier just to see what people needed then went shopping because often, you know, you make donations of clothes or whatever and it’s not really what people need.

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“So I actually went to Walmart and Costco and got pillows, shampoo, diapers, sheets, pillowcases.”

Another celebrity who has spoken out about the devastation in Maui is Fleetwood Mac co-founder Mick Fleetwood, whose restaurant Fleetwood’s on Front Street perished in the wildfires.

“These hills were ablaze and I wasn’t there... I was feeling helpless, and switches were going on and off as to what to do,” he explained.

The historical town of Lahaina, where Fleetwood’s restaurant was, has been completely destroyed.

“It’s an incredible shock for everyone,” the British rocker told Sky News. “The whole town of Lahaina is no more. That in itself is a statement that leads you immediately to the people who lived there.”

You can keep up with all updates here.

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