Biden says he’ll visit wildfire-ravaged Hawaii

August 15, 2023

President Biden said Tuesday that he plans to travel to Hawaii to inspect the damage following devastating wildfires on the island of Maui. 

“My wife, Jill, and I are going to travel to Hawaii as soon as we can,” he said during a speech in Milwaukee touting his Bidenomics plan. “That’s what I’ve been talking to the governor about but I don’t want to get in the way.”

According to the White House, Biden spoke with Hawaii’s Gov. Josh Green of (D) and Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) administrator Deanne Criswell during his flight to Milwaukee.

On Thursday approved a major disaster declaration for Hawaii, opening up FEMA funds that, according to Criswell, allow the agency to offer assistance for home repairs, unemployment aid, crisis counseling and other services to victims “designed to jumpstart their recovery.”

Ahead of the President’s speech Tuesday, the Biden Administration released a rundown of its response to the wildfires, including a onetime payment of $700 to qualifying households from FEMA. The agency has further provided some 50,000 meals, 75,000 liters of water, 5,000 cots and 10,000 blankets and shelter supplies to the local government to be distributed.

The U.S. Red Cross is staffing six shelters where food, water, hygiene kits and other essential resources are available to survivors who are unable to return home.

Additionally, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers is helping to clear roads with the aim of stabilizing electric power while medical experts with the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) are providing support that includes Disaster Mortuary Operational Response Team.

At least 99 people have been killed in the wildfires with hundreds still missing as only 25% of the burn area so far has been searched.

The flames first erupted on the island of Maui early last Tuesday, fueled by fierce winds from Hurricane Dora in the Pacific. The town of Lahaina was hit the worst with the flames leaving little more than melted cars and scorched, skeletal remains of buildings.

For info on different ways to assist in Hawaii’s recovery, log onto Maui Nui Strong here.

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