Maui fires death toll: 106
Biden to visit the ravaged Hawaiian island
By Pacific Island Times News Staff
President Joe Biden will visit Maui to visit the devastation left behind by wildfires that ravaged the Hawaiian island, leaving 106 dead, more than 2,000 missing and still undetermined amount of damage.
“My wife Jill and I are going to travel to Hawaii as soon as we can, that’s what I’ve been talking to governor about,” Biden said. “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 they need. I want to be sure we don’t disrupt the ongoing recovery efforts.”
The White House announced that the administration has mobilized a robust whole-of-government response effort to support immediate and long-term rescue and recovery efforts in Maui.
Since the onset of the horrific fires in Maui, dozens of federal departments and agencies, including the Department of Homeland Security through FEMA and the Coast Guard, the Department of Defense through the Navy and Army, the Department of Health and Human Services, the U.S. Forest Service, and the Small Business Administration have been working with state and local partners on the ground to assess ongoing needs and providing resources and personnel to support response efforts," the White House said in a statement.
Within hours of the devastating fires last Thursday, Biden signed a major disaster declaration for Hawaii, and told Gov. Josh Green that the federal government stood ready to provide additional assistance to ensure the state recovers.
Almost 500 federal personnel have been deployed to Maui to help residents in need of assistance. FEMA has also authorized critical needs assistance which provides a one-time payment of $700 per household to applicants who were displaced from their homes and have critical needs.
The Department of Defense, through U.S. INDOPACOM, is actively supporting the Federal response by helping move supplies across the State and is providing assistance with fire suppression activities.
On Wednesday, Coast Guard first responders began shifting the focus of response resources to minimizing maritime environmental impacts from the Maui fires while remaining ready to respond to any new reports of individuals in the water.
The Coast Guard has deployed pollution response teams and equipment to affected locations, including a 100-foot boom placed at the mouth of the Lahaina Harbor, to contain potential hazardous contaminants and materials.
“While the Coast Guard is always postured for search and rescue operations, we are also focused on minimizing maritime environmental impacts as a result of the Maui fires,” said Cmdr. Kyra Dykeman, the deputy incident commander for the Coast Guard Maui fire response. “We reaffirm our unwavering commitment to the community we serve.”
The Coast Guard has a safety zone established from Wahikuli Wayside Park to Launiupoko Beach Park, extending one nautical mile seaward from the shoreline.
The safety zone, enforced by the Coast Guard Maritime Safety and Security Team Honolulu, remains in effect as potential hazards in the waterway are still being evaluated.
Cargo operations at Maui’s Kahului Harbor continue uninterrupted and unaffected by the wildfires in other areas of the island and Matson’s twice-weekly service to Maui continues as normal.
Matson is working closely with Federal, State, and County emergency response agencies to assess needs and prioritize the movement of emergency equipment and supplies to Maui as part of the ongoing response to the wildfire crisis.
Matson’s barge Haleakala departed for Honolulu last week with 160 containers onboard. Matson has also chartered an additional barge which will be standing by for emergent requirements in support of the relief efforts.
To expedite the movement of disaster response and emergency cargo, the Hawaii Public Utilities Commission is allowing Matson to temporarily carry disaster response and relief goods and equipment between Honolulu and Maui.
On Guam, Apostolic Administrator Father Romy Convocar of the Archdiocese of Agana, asked the Catholic community to pray and help victims of wildfires.
"Our hearts are broken at the death, pain and decimation suffered by numerous people in Hawaii from the eruption of multiple wildfires," Convocar said,
News accounts and word from family and friends tell of the tremendous carnage suffered by thousands of people, particularly in the historic town of Lahaina in Maui," he said.
"Please pray fervently for our many brothers and sisters who have died, have lost loved ones and have had their homes, properties and lives devastated by the wildfires. Even though the fires are out, people are suffering greatly as many try to search for loved ones and get the assistance they desperately need," Convocar added.