During his visit to the fire-ravaged town of Lahaina on Maui island, President Biden expressed his commitment to rebuilding Hawai’i for the long haul and fostering a collaborative effort.
In the broader context: Thirteen days after the deadliest wildfires in the U.S. in over a century engulfed the region, Biden assured that the U.S. government would stand by Maui and Hawai’i for as long as necessary, adding that the entire nation stands united in support.
Certain Republicans, including former President Trump, have criticized Biden for what they perceive as a delayed response to Hawai’i’s most devastating natural disaster. However, both the White House and Governor Josh Green (D) of the state defended Biden, stating that while he offered assistance, he refrained from visiting earlier to avoid disrupting ongoing recovery efforts.
Earlier on Monday, the White House announced the appointment of Bob Fenton, who leads the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) region encompassing Hawai’i, as FEMA’s chief federal response coordinator for Maui. In this role, Fenton will oversee federal recovery efforts in the long term.
The fires have tragically claimed the lives of at least 114 people, and as of earlier on Monday, Hawaiian authorities reported around 850 individuals still missing.
Biden’s words: “Our reconstruction efforts will align with the wishes of the people of Maui,” Biden affirmed while standing beside Lahaina’s historic banyan tree. He emphasized that the rebuilding process would be in accordance with the local community’s preferences rather than external influences.
He reiterated this promise during a meeting with survivors of the fires, pledging, “I assure you… as long as I remain President, as long as your governor is in office, and… your elected representatives are here, we won’t cease until the task is complete.”
After touring what remains of Lahaina’s seafront main street alongside First Lady Jill Biden and assessing the wildfire’s devastation from the air, Biden remarked, “The extent of the destruction is truly overwhelming.”
President Biden visits fire-devastated Maui
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