‘A nightmare;’ Preble Co. family forced to sleep in car while stuck in Maui amid wildfires

PREBLE COUNTY — A Preble County man says he and his family are thankful to be home after being stuck in Maui as wildfires ripped through part of the island.

Eric Weber, of West Alexandria, went to Maui with his wife and two children to celebrate his daughter’s high school graduation, but what was meant to be a celebratory trip turned dangerous during their second week there.

>> Photos: Aftermath of Hawaii fires

“It was a nightmare. I was waiting to wake up from it,” he said.

Weber said when they woke up last Tuesday morning, their resort had lost power because of Hurricane Dora. Workers at the resort told them the power would be out for hours, so Weber and his family went out to explore outside of the resort, unaware of the fires that had broken out.

“Once we got quite a ways away from it, [we] realized there’s wildfires. We didn’t know what was going on,” he told News Center 7′s John Bedell.

After finding out about the fires, the family learned they would not be allowed back at their resort.

“Motels were full, shelters were full. There was nowhere to stay so we actually stayed in the car for two nights in a Walmart parking lot,” he recounted.

This posed a problem for Weber and his daughter, who are both Type 1 Diabetics. He said there was no insulin available, and they eventually turned to local law enforcement for help.

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“They let us back in late Thursday to get our stuff, which we did, and then from there [we] went to the airport,” Weber said.

An hour later they learned fires broke out across from the resort they were staying in.

After staying another night in the airport, the family was able to get a flight to California. They eventually landed back in Ohio Saturday afternoon. Looking back, he can’t help but think about how lucky his family was to make it home.

“It’s heartbreaking for those that, you know, lost their lives, are still there, stuck, can’t communicate with folks. There is no cell phone service, no communication at all so it just breaks my heart for others. I’m thankful,” he said.

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