President Biden addresses Maui wildfire recovery


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Maui’s rebuilding commitment

Following the devastating wildfires in Maui that claimed over 114 lives, US President Joe Biden visited the Hawaiian island to show support and pledge assistance.

As reported by Reuters, the president praised the “remarkable resiliency” of the people of Maui. “We’re focused on what’s next. That’s rebuilding for the long term …and doing it together,” Biden remarked during his visit.

Support and recognition from Washington

In his statement to the survivors of the August 8 wildfires, he reassured them: “The American people stand with you.

“For as long as it takes, we’re going to be with you.”

President Biden, alongside Governor Josh Green and other local representatives, emphasised the nation’s commitment to Maui’s rebuilding.

Addressing a community gathering in Lahaina, Biden pointed out the symbolic importance of a historic banyan tree that had been damaged by the fires yet remained standing.

“It’s going to be a long road,” he observed.

The nation’s response and future commitments

In his previous statement, the president expressed his sympathy and determination to assist Maui in its recovery.

He confirmed the authorisation of three Fire Management Assistance Grants and the immediate signing of a Major Disaster Declaration upon request from Governor Green.

Furthermore, Biden stated that a “whole-of-government response effort” had been mobilized, with over 1,000 federal personnel, including 450 search and rescue team members, being deployed in Maui.

Biden-Harris administration responds to Maui wildfire crisis

In a coordinated response to the devastating wildfires on Maui, the Biden-Harris administration has taken decisive action to aid impacted communities.

Federal personnel steps up after Maui wildfire

Over 1,000 Federal personnel have been dispatched to Maui to assist with the ongoing crisis.

President Biden, upon receiving Hawaii’s request for assistance, promptly signed a Major Disaster Declaration and initiated a comprehensive government response.

On August 21, the President and First Lady Jill Biden visited Maui where they meet survivors, first responders, and local officials to offer their support.

Since the fire began, Biden has been in regular touch with Hawaii Governor Josh Green.

He has pledged the Federal government’s ongoing assistance for as long as required.

Additionally, updates have been frequently provided by FEMA Administrator Deanne Criswell and Homeland Security Advisor Liz Sherwood-Randall.

Multiple federal agencies join Maui wildfire relief efforts

A range of Federal agencies, spanning the Department of Homeland Security, Department of Defense, Health and Human Services, and more, are actively collaborating with local partners.

Their collective aim is to gauge current needs and mobilise resources to bolster relief operations.

The administration is urging affected individuals to register for Federal aid either online or through a designated helpline.

A dedicated Disaster Recovery Center has also been set up at the University of Hawaii Maui College, open seven days a week, where those impacted can directly interact with FEMA specialists and access a variety of services.

Update on the coordinated federal response

By August 20, over 1,000 federal staff, including 450 search and rescue team members, were actively assisting Maui’s residents.

To date, financial assistance has been provided to approximately 2,500 households, including an initial sum for rental aid.

Various essential supplies, such as meals, water, cots, and blankets, have been made available to the local government.

Notably, a partnership with the Hawaii Fire Relief Housing program managed by the American Red Cross has led to a substantial reduction in the number of people needing shelter.

President Biden has also unlocked additional disaster funding for Hawaii, increasing the federal cost coverage for eligible expenses.

In terms of manpower, numerous personnel from the Department of Defense, Coast Guard, and other departments are part of the response team, providing diverse forms of support.

The Environmental Protection Agency, Department of Energy, Department of Health and Human Services, and several other federal bodies have deployed teams to assist with various aspects of the crisis, from managing hazardous waste to victim identification.

Moreover, entities such as the Small Business Administration and the Department of Housing and Urban Development are offering financial and housing assistance.

Resources and guidance for handling finances during this challenging period are available through the US Consumer Financial Protection Bureau.

Lastly, in a bid to support the cultural heritage of the region, the Heritage Emergency National Task Force is liaising with local entities to ensure heritage sites are considered in damage assessments.

IFSJ Comment

The swift and coordinated response from the Biden-Harris administration in the wake of the Maui wildfires underlines the magnitude and severity of the crisis.

The Federal government’s commitment, both in terms of personnel and resources, not only addresses the immediate needs of the affected community but also looks at long-term recovery.

Their collaboration with local entities, from the Hawaii Governor’s office to the American Red Cross, paints a vivid picture of unity in the face of adversity.

The international community will undoubtedly be observing and learning from these combined efforts, reaffirming the significance of preparedness, rapid response, and efficient resource allocation during natural disasters.

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