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Burned out

November 28, 2011 - Harry Eagar
I don't have to tell you this, because you're already doing the right thing, but it is merely restating the obvious to note that the only way to be informed is to read a daily newspaper. Maybe more than one.

People who think they follow the news via radio, television or the Internet are deluding themselves.

Over the weekend, The Maui News happened to provide a double dose of examples of what I mean. They weren't big stories, not on page one.

On Sunday, there was a brief item about a house fire in Hana, followed Monday by a slightly longer version. On Monday, there was a brief story about a house fire on Molokai, about which there probably will be more details Tuesday.

Neither story pointed out the “real” news, but readers paying attention learned something about housing conditions.

The Hana house was destroyed. The fire department assessed damages at $12,000. The Molokai house was destroyed, too. It was described as a 700-square-foot post-and-pier wooden building (about a third bigger than the Hana house). The American Red Cross went to the aid of the three adults and six children who lost their homes.

That's nine people living in a house smaller than the rooms in our newer hotels, which run around 800 square feet.

Of course, it isn't “news” that housing conditions in Hawaii are rugged. This is the kind of information a regular reader of a daily newspaper acquires without effort. When I first came to Hawaii, I read from time to time about house fires in Kalihi. I had never been to Kalihi, but I soon had a pretty good idea what kind of neighborhood it was. As a matter of routine, the Advertiser would report that these fires had made 18 or 20 people homeless.

When I finally did visit Kalihi, it was much as I had anticipated.


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