Kika Perez Grant wasn’t sure what would become of the remains of her uncle, Franklin Trejos, who was found in a charred car, his body shielding a friend’s dog.
On Saturday, Gov. Josh Green told residents to brace for more grim news.
For scores of families in Hawaii still hoping to reunite with loved ones, it was not yet time to give up — even as the staggering death toll continued to grow, and even as authorities predicted that more remains would be found within the ashes left behind by a wildfire that gutted the once-bustling town of Lahaina.
But many others are already confronting a painful reality. Their loved ones did not make it out alive.
“We knew he was happiest out there, and so we’re allowing his best friends, who he’s been with for over 30 years out there, do whatever they think he would be happy with,” said Grant, who lives with her mother and family in Maryland.
Specific plans have yet to be decided, she said, partly because it was unclear who had possession of his remains.
Thus far, the remains of more than 90 people have been pulled from flattened homes, blackened cars or on streets just a few strides from their front doors — unable to outrun the smoke and flames that were just too fast and too ferocious.
On Saturday, Gov. Josh Green told residents to brace for more grim news. Crews and cadaver-sniffing dogs will certainly find more of the missing within the destruction, he said. He predicted the tragedy could rank as Hawaii’s deadliest natural disaster ever.
It was an ominous signal of the anguish to come in the months ahead. Mourners will file into houses of worship, then somberly gather at gravesites to say final goodbyes. The scenes will be repeated over and over — though how many times no one yet knows.
Maui officials declined to respond to phone calls, text messages and emails requesting information about how and where the county are sheltering the recovered remains. Nor did they answer questions about whether the county has the facilities and resources to handle the rising number of fatalities.
With just one hospital and three mortuaries, it remains unclear where all those corpses will be temporarily stored and how soon they will be released to family.