Biden to meet with wildfire survivors in Hawaii on Monday

August 16, 2023

The White House said Wednesday morning that President Biden and the First Lady are set to travel to Hawaii Monday to meet with survivors of this past week’s devastating wildfires. 

Biden first announced Tuesday at a Bidenomics event in Milwaukee that he planned to visit Hawaii, but it was not until the next morning that a date was specified. 

The President and First Lady Jill Biden plan to meet with survivors and first responders as well as federal, state and local officials and survey the damage in the ravaged town of Lahaina. 

The flames first erupted on the island of Maui early last Tuesday, August 8, 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.

As of this Tuesday morning, Maui county officials said the Lahaina fire in western part of the island was 85% contained while the Kula fire in upcountry Maui was 60% contained. By Wednesday the death toll had reached 106 amid the search for hundreds of people still missing. Families hoping to hear about loved ones have been asked to provide DNA samples.

“I remain committed to delivering everything the people of Hawaii need as they recover from this disaster,” Biden posted on social media Wednesday.

On 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 already 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 provided to survivors who are unable to return home.

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

On Wednesday, authorities were planning to allow Lahaina residents and employees to travel on a highway into town for the first time in days. Earlier this week, a brief relaxation of the road closures had to be suspended after people jammed streets used by search teams, raising fears that the traffic would compromise recovery efforts.

The lack of access to homes and businesses has helped fuel frustrations among the town’s 13,000 people.

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

PHOTO: Lahaina August 9

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