EAST PALESTINE, Ohio (WKBN) – A local couple is glad to be back home after their trip to paradise quickly turned into a disaster.
It was a vacation Mary and Brandon Huff had planned for a year and a half — a trip to the island of Maui. The East Palestine couple arrived last Sunday and spent the first two days enjoying paradise.
“When we woke up, we had no electricity due to the high winds. At that point, we didn’t know anything about the fires,” Mary said.
That afternoon, they went grocery shopping at a local Walmart, still unaware of the fast-moving wildfires just a few miles away. Then suddenly, traffic came to a standstill and the roads were closed.
“There was no way to get back to our resort. We were stranded,” Mary said.
With nowhere to go, they were forced to sleep in their rented Jeep with all the groceries they’d just purchased.
“We stayed at first in the Walmart parking lot and then went across the street to Target, and we spent the night in the Target parking lot,” Mary said.
By Wednesday, the situation had worsened to the point where officials were urging tourists to get off the island. Only there were few flights available.
As Mary and her husband were desperately trying to find a way off the island and get back home again, they didn’t want to tell anyone back home what was happening to avoid frightening them.
Finally, Mary says she was able to grab the last two seats on a flight leaving Thursday morning, leaving all their luggage behind.
“They were booked at first and then they had become available. We were able to switch our flights that were originally to leave on Saturday,” Mary said.
Ironically, the ordeal wasn’t the first close call they’d experienced. Both endured the train derailment a few miles from their home back in February.
‘You’d never think that two disasters like this would happen to you in the same year,” Mary said.
For now, Mary says she and her husband won’t be planning any more trips to Hawaii.
Through a partnership with the American Red Cross, WKBN First News sister station KHON2 and our parent company Nexstar have a dedicated Maui wildfire donation page where you can donate directly toward those impacted by the tragedy.