Oprah Winfrey faced backlash from social media users after she tried to film survivors of the Maui wildfires.

Winfrey has lived part-time in Maui for the past 15 years and owns more than 2,000 acres on the Hawaiian island.

The media mogul has been assisting survivors at an evacuation center, including handing out supplies and promising on Instagram to help the island “once all the smoke and ash has settled and we figure out what the rebuilding is going to look like.”

Oprah Winfrey on June 30, 2023, in New Orleans, Louisiana. She was slammed by some online for trying to film inside an evacuation center in Maui.
Getty Images North America/Paras Griffin

The wildfires are the deadliest in more than a century and started last Tuesday after winds from Hurricane Dora pushed flames across several islands.

More than 1,000 people are still missing and 93 are confirmed dead, according to Maui County, especially around the historic town of Lahaina, which was hit hardest by the fires.

Taking a break from aid efforts, Winfrey visited an emergency shelter with a CBS News crew but was denied entry to the War Memorial Complex in Wailuku. Newsweek contacted Winfrey’s representatives and CBS by email for comment.

Officials working onsite thanked Winfrey for her help, but said that they had a no-media policy “out of respect for those who have come to seek safety and shelter at emergency shelters.”

They said Winfrey was polite and obliging after they refused to let her in.

The County of Maui said that Winfrey was later allowed into the center and told the camera crew to stay outside.

“We welcome Oprah to continue to uplift our community’s spirit and give her aloha to victims of the tragic disaster,” the county wrote on Facebook. “Her visit inside of the shelter today was truly heartwarming.”

However, some people were less than impressed with Winfrey trying to film at the center.

“Just like when Meghan Markle took a camera crew to #Uvalde after the massacre of young children. These celebrities are trash! Oprah Winfrey truly disgusting character continues to be exposed. #MauiFires,” wrote one person on X, the social media site formerly known as Twitter.

Another user added: “Dear ⁦@Oprah Maui Doesn’t need a visit from you with a camera crew How about Matching ⁦@JeffBezos pledge of $100M to rebuild? Now THAT’S how you can provide Kokua #MAUIStrong.”

And a third wrote in a tweet viewed 22,000 times: “Oprah owns 2,000 acres in Maui. Her land wasn’t destroyed. Her donation for recovery efforts should be the 2,000 acres she owns!”

But locals were appreciative of Winfrey’s efforts, including an organization, Kāko’o Haleakalā, which described how the former TV host came to the shelter to ask what was needed and later returned with supplies for the survivors.

“Maui Resident Oprah Winfrey, stopped by the shelter in Wailuku. She asked what the need was and she’s going to supply! Mahalo Oprah!” the group wrote on Instagram.

The group added in another post: “Mahalo Nui @oprah for following through! She returned with cots, pillows, and toiletries for the people in the shelter at in Wailuku. She even spent some time with the people there. It was very much appreciated. Can we challenge anyone who’s watching this and who calls Maui / Hawaiʻi “their home”, like Oprah to step up to plate and show your aloha and kōkua and kakoʻo (support). When in Hawaiʻi, you act like the Hawaiians and malama (care). Where there’s a need you fill it. Just saying!”