According to a statement released by the White House on Wednesday, President Biden and First Lady Jill Biden will travel to Maui on Monday, August 21 after devastating wildfires on the Hawaiian island killed more than 100 people and caused mass destruction in the area. The death toll from the fires rose to 106 on Wednesday as recovery efforts continued.
White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre said that Mr. and Mrs. Biden will meet with first responders, survivors, as well as federal, state, and local officials during their trip: “The president and first lady will be welcomed by state and local leaders to see firsthand the impacts of the wildfires and the devastating loss of life and land that has occurred on the island, as well as discuss the next steps in the recovery effort. The president continues to marshal a whole-of-government response to the deadly Maui fires, and he has committed to delivering everything that the people of Hawaii need from the federal government as they recover from this disaster.”
The White House has been working closely with Hawaii’s Senators Mazie Hirono and Brian Schatz, Gov. Josh Green, and FEMA Administrator Deanne Criswell, keeping the President up-to-date on search and recovery efforts. FEMA said more than 4,400 survivors have registered for federal assistance and may be eligible for immediate resources, including hotel rooms or financial assistance. Criswell said on Wednesday that FEMA has approved more than $2.3 million in assistance to 1,331 households, including more than $798,000 in initial rental assistance, to help survivors start the recovery process. FEMA also opened a joint disaster recovery center where survivors can speak face-to-face with FEMA specialists to have access to other federal and state resources.
Biden had said earlier in the week that while he wanted to travel to Maui, he wanted to ensure that a presidential visit would not hinder recovery efforts. “I don’t want to get in the way — I’ve been to too many disaster areas, but I want to go and make sure we got everything we need. I want to be sure we don’t disrupt the ongoing recovery efforts,” Biden said, adding that he pledged Maui will have “every asset, every asset they need.”
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