Oprah Winfrey has received mixed reviews in regards to her buying acres of land in Maui and her response to the Maui wildfires that began on Aug. 8.
The media mogul, who has purchased more than 2,000 acres of land in the tourist destination, showed up to provide aid to those who were without food and shelter during the deadly four-day fire that burned down homes, businesses, and land.
But now she and Amazon founder Jeff Bezos are being blamed for the aftermath residents have had to endure.
A video clip from a Maui County Council meeting last Tuesday, Aug. 22, has now gone viral after a woman known as “Auntie” complained about the lack of urgency to put the fires out.
“Nobody called us! Our phones didn’t work from 5 in the morning. The fire was not until 10 o’clock when I went to work,” she stated, noting that there was no water for hours and no warning from the government.
The woman also doesn’t believe it’s a coincidence that the “satellite city” has been destroyed — possibly driving down the value for others to purchase the land.
“Everybody talking about the satellite city before the fire. Lahaina gonna be the first satellite city!” the resident says before taking aim at the two billionaires. “Well, hey, Jeff Bezos, you got what you wanted, Oprah, you got what you wanted … f—k us over!”
She continued, “That’s what happened. We need help in Lahaina. Whose gonna come now and ask us can I pray for you?”
The woman added that residents received nothing but a $700 check, but they have “no clue who to call or anything. It’s culturally insensitive in that zone.”
Thousands are still left in the crosshairs of the mayhem that claimed the lives of over 115 people. According to the Lahaina news outlet KITV 4, over 2,170 acres of land are estimated to have burned, and over 350 individuals have been unaccounted for. Meanwhile, there are 4,725 people spread between 19 hotel shelter locations.
Aside from the backlash, Winfrey has received some growth on social media after gaining almost 110,000 new followers between Instagram and TikTok.
However, two conspiracy theories have circulated online, fueling the boost in her followers.
One conspiracy implies the former talk show host has only been helping the locals for “publicity” after bringing a camera crew to a shelter in Maui, who were told to wait “outside.”
Another theory alleges Winfrey is somehow connected to the start of the fires — noting that her properties were not burned in the blazes.
X user Matt Wallace has fueled the latter theory, implying that she might have started the fire.
“Oprah Winfrey Has Been Buying Up Land in Maui Like Crazy,” Wallace posted, along with a breakdown of how much land she has bought in total.
‘IN THE LAST FEW YEARS SHE HAS GONE FROM ABOUT 100 ACRES OF LAND IN MAUI TO OVER 1000 ACRES! Then All of A Sudden Out of Nowhere A Fire Comes And Destroys Many Homes Near Her But Her Land Remains Untouched!”
Wallace then mentioned another deadly fire that destroyed homes near Oprah’s flood-ravaged mansion in Montecito in 2017.
“BUT HER PROPERTY REMAINED UNTOUCHED!!!!!” he shared, adding that she continued expanding the land to over 70 acres despite damage from mudslides just weeks later.
He also posted that the government is trying to hide information regarding Winfrey’s connection to the burning.
Despite the chatter and posts like this, Winfrey’s Instagram leaped up 92,000 and her TikTok shot up 20,000 over the last 30 days, Newsweek reports. She did, however, during the same time lose over 60,000 followers on her X account.
Part of the rise may be influenced by images of the philanthropist actually helping the people in Hawaii in need.
Days after the fire started to ravage the community and burn people’s homes, Winfrey went to the sites most impacted to see what the needs of the displaced and impacted really were.