Watch CBS News

Northern California aid heads to Maui, survivors recall harrowing escape

NorCal aid heads to Maui, survivors recall harrowing escape
NorCal aid heads to Maui, survivors recall harrowing escape 02:39

LINCOLN – Miles away from the devastation seen on Maui, the staggering aftermath has hit a nerve with so many people on the mainland.

Help is trickling in from large organizations such as the Salvation Army down to everyday people.

"Through the course of this week, we are mobilizing our incident management team," said Patrick McGinn, disaster services director for the Northern California division.  

At the front desk of the Weideman Pediatric Dentistry and Orthodontics in Citrus Heights, it is doubling as a storehouse for donations.

The mission hits close to home for an employee.

"I was born and raised on Maui, and it means a lot to me," Jordan Pistorius said.

Pistorius' family is safe from physical harm, but some lost their homes.

Other families on vacation fought to survive the fast-moving inferno heading to Lahaina.

"The winds were blowing 70-100 miles per hour and it was pretty intense," said David Cesio, a survivor.

For more than two days, Catherine Johnson had not heard from her parents, David and Caroline Cesio. The pair were on vacation with another couple when the flames ripped through the community.

Johnson, the co-owner of GoatHouse Brewing in Lincoln, looked to her loyal online following for help.

While Johnson tried to make contact, her 80-something-year-old parents went into survival mode.

"There was no warning," Caroline Cesio said.

Her mother revealed the bruises left behind after clinging to a seawall.

Eventually, the daughter reunited with her parents Sunday.

"Our family was there to greet us and hug us," Caroline Cesio said. "I said I was going to be a much better person because I'm not going to go to hell. I've been through hell.

Their unshakeable bond is held together by hope and help.

Now, GoatHouse Brewing is paying it forward by launching a new brew. It's called Maui Strong which will help in the rebuilding and recovery of Lahaina, Johnson said.

An ocean away from the devastation, the aloha spirit is strong on the mainland.

View CBS News In
CBS News App Open
Chrome Safari Continue
Be the first to know
Get browser notifications for breaking news, live events, and exclusive reporting.