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Determination after destruction: An employee's drive to help

"If you have the means … you give everything you possibly can." Aaron Goddard offered his boat, a helping hand and a place to stay to displaced residents on Maui.

Allstate employee Aaron Goddard standing on bow of a boat with propane tanks behind him.

Allstate employee Aaron Goddard put together a team of 69 volunteers to deliver essential items by boat to those impacted by the Lahaina fire.

September 8, 2023

Aaron Goddard has seen a handful of wildfires in Hawaii.

So when a fire broke out around 7 a.m. on Aug. 9 in Lahaina, Goddard and other locals figured it would be contained eventually, like usual. And in fact, a couple of hours later, officials sent out a message that the Lahaina fire was 100% contained.

But later that day, the fire started to burn again. This time, Goddard, an executive vice president at Allstate Health Solutions, and folks on the other side of the island, didn't hear about it. They had no communication with people in Lahaina, where the power was out and emergency and police lines were down.

A friend in Lahaina who had rescued people trapped in elevators sent Goddard photos showing the fire — and an imminent emergency — growing.

That evening, Goddard went to his boat in the harbor and listened to emergency messages through a VHF radio. The Coast Guard was saying there were people in the water.

"That's when you realize: This is bad," Goddard said.

Bringing something to those left with nothing

Goddard added his boat to the Coast Guard's list to help.

The next morning he was on the water, rescuing people from the shore, fire-ravaged Lahaina behind them. Goddard and other volunteers delivered supplies — water, food, feminine-hygiene products, diapers, propane tanks — to people whose homes and businesses were in ruins.

According to a recent report by the Insurance Institute for Business & Home Safety, over 2,200 structures were destroyed, making the Lahaina fire the seventh most damaging one in the United States since 1990. Nearly three-quarters of all buildings in the community were destroyed, according to the report.


"People were left with absolutely nothing," Goddard said.

For eight days, he and others used their boats to deliver supplies and take survivors in Lahaina back to Maalaea Harbor to escape the damage.

Commercial boats brought supplies but were too big to get close to shore. Goddard joined lines of people, including survivors, forming chains 100 yards from boats to shore, passing off the supplies until they reached land.

"If you have the means — and those means can be two arms and a backpack if that's all you have left —you give everything you possibly can to support the human relief," Goddard said. "The people who lost everything were probably some of the most helpful."

Goddard has been using all the resources he has to help: He helped fly medical supplies into the area. He and his wife, Angela, provided a place to stay for first responders and people who lost their homes. They've shifted all resources from their nonprofit, Youth with a Calling, to fire relief efforts.

Rebuilding lives after loss in Lahaina

A few days after the fire was contained, Goddard and other volunteers walked the streets of Lahaina for a first-hand view of the damage, already thinking of ways to help long-term.

Goddard said he'll be part of the continuing efforts to repair and rebuild the homes and businesses.

"We'll just get goods out there and help them get their lives back," he said. "This island has opened its arms to the entire world for decades, and it's definitely a time where they're looking for help. I don't think there's enough that can be done to show back the love and respect they've shown to the visitors who've come here."

Allstate's National Catastrophe Team response in Maui

  • Employees are stationed at the Family Assistance Center in Kaanapali, Hawaii, helping customers with claims.
  • Agent advocates are onsite helping Maui agencies and customers file claims, providing payments and answering questions.
  • The NCT is partnering with agents to use aerial imaging to locate customers' properties and contact those who haven't filed claims.
  • We're reaching out to customers affected by the fire through social media, push notifications in the Allstate mobile app, and emails sent on behalf of agents.

Resilient communities can rebuild

Allstate's purpose is to protect people so they can achieve their hopes and dreams, and part of that is protecting and strengthening communities. The Allstate Foundation, in partnership with Points of Light, created a Disaster Resiliency Toolkit. Share it with your neighbors, friends, family and community today. To help prepare for catastrophes tomorrow.

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