S. Maui residents suffering at the hands of HC&S

Respiratory diseases are No. 1 in Maui County (The Maui News, July 4), huh? A shock? Not to us in the fastest-growing area of the county, South Maui.

What we suffer at the hands of Hawaiian Commercial & Sugar Co. with cane smoke and ash is beyond the pale. Yet, a July 1 letter writer waxed nostalgic about his family members – going back about a century – working at Pioneer Mill, the pretty sheen of the cane leaves (that’s true) and how we in South Maui exaggerate about the cane smoke and ash.

I am an asthmatic now suffering with full-blown COPD. My wife (who never had any form of respiratory disease until the repetitive wee-hour smoke coughing, hacking and residue in her nose) has a brand-new diagnosis of “cough-induced asthma.”

And before Upcountry or West Maui writers say, “Haole, go home,” I’ve lived on Maui for nearly 30 years (more than half my life) and my wife for more than 20 years. We are by no means off-the-plane malahini.

We, too, have been to northern Queensland, Australia – identical weather, same crop but green harvest. It is a lie being told to workers that you will lose your job if burning is replaced by green cut. HC&S simply doesn’t want to spend its profits investing in a healthier way of working and way of life for all Mauians – especially those of us suffering, truly suffering, in South Maui.

It’s a new millennium. Change now.

Bobby and Bessie Bourbeau