Biden tours Maui and pledges support for wildfire survivors
850 people are still missing after devastating wildfires wreaked havoc this month in the western part of the Hawaiian island of Maui, Mayor Richard Bissen announced in an update, revealing on Facebook that 114 people had been confirmed dead, 27 identified and 11 families notified.
The updated death toll came as US President Joe Biden and the first lady, Jill Biden, travelled to the island on Monday to comfort survivors of the wildfires. He highlighted the federally sponsored recovery efforts that are currently underway.
The president spoke from Lahaina, near the banyan tree that has become a symbol of the devastation introduced by the natural event and the resilience of the Hawaiian community. “Today it’s burned, but it’s still standing,” he spoke of the tree.
“Nothing Can Replace The Loss Of Life”
Biden also highlighted efforts of the Federal Emergency Management Agency, which has given out scores of meals and blankets to the displaced, with the US Department of Housing and Urban Development helping survivors shift from temporary shelters into temporary housing.
Shortly after touching down on the island, Biden went on an aerial tour of the damaged land in Maui. In a statement ahead of the trip, he had stressed how “nothing can replace the loss of life,” adding he would do everything in his power to help the place recover and rebuild.
While water in some parts of west Maui remains unsafe to drink, Senator Brian Schatz of Hawaii said as of Sunday, approximately 85% of the affected region had been searched for survivors and about 10,000 people remained without telecom connectivity and 2,000 without power.