Brevard County nonprofit flies water purifiers to Maui after deadly wildfires

Maui wildfires have become the nation’s fifth-deadliest on record

TITUSVILLE, Fla. – Forty-five years after starting Air Mobile Ministries, Joe Hurston has helped people in 51 countries to obtain access to clean water during natural disasters and warfare. 

Now, the 72-year-old humanitarian is packing the first water purifying machines he’s ever prepared to help wildfire victims in Hawaii.

“Bodies have just been incinerated. There’s still 1,500 people missing,” Hurston said of the Maui wildfires, which have become the nation’s fifth-deadliest on record.

As the death toll rises, Hurston said each of the ten purifiers that Air Mobile Ministries made can provide enough clean drinking water for 1,000 people every day.

Hurston said the portable machines are simple yet powerful.

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In his travels, Hurston has been to some of the most dangerous parts of the world, saying he’s been robbed, beaten and nearly kidnapped.

But for this trip, he said it was a recent knee surgery and his wife’s health that almost made him reconsider.

As he continues through physical therapy, Hurston said his wife encouraged him to continue his mission.

“My wife said, ‘Get your butt out the door.’ She said, ‘Those people need you, and they need the machines,’” Hurston said.

The machines run off just 50 watts of electricity and Hurston said some of his purifiers around the world are still working decades after delivering them.

Hurston and his partner said they expect to land in Maui Tuesday afternoon, and after their first trip, they expect to fly back multiple times with more water purifiers.

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About the Author:

James joined News 6 in March 2016 as the Brevard County Reporter. His arrival was the realization of a three-year effort to return to the state where his career began. James is from Pittsburgh, PA and graduated from Penn State in 2009 with a degree in Broadcast Journalism.