Community raises over 40K for Georgia woman after she loses everything in Maui wildfires

Georgia woman loses everything in Maui wildfires.
Georgia woman loses everything in Maui wildfires.(Amanda Rose)
Published: Aug. 15, 2023 at 6:51 PM EDT
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ATLANTA, Ga. (Atlanta News First) - “She was panicked. She said this can’t be good, this is really, really, going to be bad,” said Becky Chapman.

Becky Chapman spoke with her daughter, Kelley, just a few hours before the historic town of Lahaina was consumed by deadly wildfires.

Shortly after, Chapman’s daughter, her husband and their three pets left in the nick of time escaping with just the clothes on their backs.

“She saw burned bodies as she was leaving already, people were already burned up. And the smoke was so think you couldn’t see through it,” she said.

It wasn’t until early the next morning, she says, Kelley learned everything she loved was destroyed.

The 43-year-old, who was born and raised in Conyers, lost her home and the sustainable swimwear business she built from scratch when she moved to Maui over a decade ago.

Her store and thousands of dollars in inventory were burned to ashes.

“You just want them to be okay. And I can’t be there which makes it worse, so,” said Chapman.

Chapman is feeling Kelley’s pain from thousands of miles away.

She says her daughter’s business had already suffered from the pandemic and Kelley was ashamed she couldn’t afford insurance.

“I have my faith, which has gotten me through. But I just hurt for her. You know, your mama’s heart is broken,” she said.

But Kelley isn’t in this fight alone.

Her best friend in Georgia has already raised over $40,000 to help thanks to the generosity of friends and loved ones in Newton and Rockdale County.

And with it, is Chapman’s hope her daughter will start anew, stronger than ever.

“She used to say she was a phoenix. Well, now she can rise from the ashes and that would make me very happy and a lot of people happy too,” Chapman said.