Amid the recent devastation caused by wildfires in Hawaii and the political fallout from a notably poor response statement made while vacationing in Delaware, President Joe Biden took high-profile measures to address the issue.
Following the revelation of a heartfelt but politically embarrassing letter of sympathy for those impacted by the fires by King Charles of the United Kingdom, President Biden authorized significant federal disaster relief to the island state.
On Tuesday, President Biden said of the fires, which have been raging since August 8, 2023: “The images coming out of Hawaii are heartbreaking. I want everyone in Hawaii to know that we’re here for you. We’re going to get through this together. This is really, really tough stuff.”
Biden added: “My wife Jill and I are gonna travel to Hawaii as soon as we can, and that’s what I’ve been talking to the governor about. 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 they’ve got everything they need, and I want to be sure we don’t disrupt the ongoing recovery efforts.”
Biden’s disaster declaration authorizes aid for housing, property repair, low-interest loans and recovery programs.
Fox News reported that federal aid will cover debris removal, protective measures, and hazard mitigation in both Maui and Hawaii counties.
According to a FEMA press release, affected individuals and businesses in Maui County can apply for assistance at www.DisasterAssistance.gov or by calling 1-800-621-3362. The relief is expected to bolster the state’s efforts in helping its citizens rebuild and recover.
The document also reveals that FEMA’s Maona N. Ngwira is leading federal recovery operations and that there could be potential additional designations depending on the outcome of damage assessments.
Hawaii’s Gov. Green toured Maui on Saturday, sharing with reporters that at least 2,200 buildings were damaged or destroyed in West Maui, of which 86% were residential, said it would take “an incredible amount of time” to recover from the estimated $6 billion in damage.
Biden assured: “The state will have everything it needs from the federal government. I immediately approved the governor’s request for an expedited major disaster declaration – that’s a fancy word for saying whatever you need, you’re gonna get.”
Some argue Biden’s pledge of financial support is insufficient, and stands in stark contrast to the aid he desires to commit to Ukraine
Others commend the president of South Korea for pledging millions in aid to Maui.
As the Hawaiian community bands together during these challenging times, federal support will play a crucial role in aiding the island’s recovery and ensuring its residents can rebuild and look forward to a more secure future.
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