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Biden declares federal disaster on Maui, Hawai‘i Island

LIHU‘E — President Joe Biden approved on Thursday morning Governor Josh Green’s request for a federal disaster declaration in Hawai‘i, ordering federal aid to assist recovery efforts on Maui and opening funds to individuals affected by the recent wildfires that have killed at least 53 people

Maui County officials said Thursday that the fire in West Maui had been 80 percent contained. In the flame’s wake lay scorched earth and rubble, with the historic former Hawaiian capital and tourism hub Lahaina almost entirely leveled, making the disaster one of Hawai‘i’s deadliest in its recorded history and the second deadliest wildfire in the U.S. in over 100 years.

“This is a tragic day for everyone in Hawai‘i and the nation,” said Green in a written statement Thursday. “Our hearts go out to the families of the victims and the survivors suffering through the deadliest natural disaster the state has seen in generations.”

Individuals affected by the Maui fires can apply for federal funds to mitigate the disaster’s financial burden. Available assistance includes grants for temporary housing and home repairs, low-cost loans to cover uninsured property losses, and other programs to help individuals and business owners recover from the effects of the disaster.

“Anyone who’s lost a loved one, whose home has been damaged or destroyed, is going to get help immediately,” said Biden on Thursday during a speech in Utah.

Federal funding has also been made available to state and eligible county governnments, as well as to certain nonprofit organizations on a cost-sharing basis, for debris removal and emergency protective measures in Maui County, and assistance for emergency protective measures for Hawai‘i County.

Additionally, federal funding has been made available statewide on a cost-sharing basis for hazard mitigation measures.

“Our prayers are with the people of Hawai‘i, but not just our prayers,” Biden said. “Every asset we have will be available to them.”

Maona Ngwira, of the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), has been appointed to coordinate federal recovery operations in the affected areas.

The Biden administration added that additional forms of assistance may be designated as damage assessments continue.

In the meantime, Green stressed the rest of Hawai‘i focus cooperative efforts toward the affected areas.

“In the coming days — and as more and more details emerge — I ask that we as a state provide all the emotional and financial support we can to the people of Lahaina and Maui,” Green said.

“As governor of the state of Hawai‘i, I pledge to spare no resources to combat the destructive wildfires, shelter the displaced, treat and bring comfort to the traumatized, support our first responders, restore communication lines and enlist the aid of our federal and county partners to confront this once-in-a-lifetime catastrophe.”

Individuals impacted by the wildfires on Maui and Hawai‘i Island are advised to visit to check their eligibility for federal funds.


Jackson Healy, reporter, can be reached at 808-647-4966 or
Source: The Garden Island

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