The White House announced Wednesday that President Joe Biden will head to the Maui disaster zone next week. While there he will meet with first responders and tour damage left by the catastrophic wildfires that rampaged across the Hawaii island.
“In Maui, the President and First Lady will be welcomed by state and local leaders to see firsthand the impacts of the wildfires and the devastating loss of life and land that has occurred on the island, as well as discuss the next steps in the recovery effort,” press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre said in a statement as reported by the Hill.
The president has previously been criticised for offering “no comment” on the death toll while saying he would not be going immediately because he did not want to be a distraction.
“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,” he said on Tuesday. “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.”
Joe Biden reportedly said he had “no comment” when asked Sunday about the rising death toll from the devastating Hawaii fires. https://t.co/NwcDgd0La6
— Breitbart News (@BreitbartNews) August 14, 2023
As Breitbart News reported, the human toll in the cataclysmic wildfires reached 106 on Tuesday at the same time Biden said he will travel to the devastated area “soon” while offering “thoughts and prayers” alongside assistance for survivors.
Now Biden has committed himself to make the journey to Maui although exact details have yet to be announced.
While there the president can expect questions to be asked about authorities’ preparedness and response to the catastrophe.
AWFUL… Drone Footage Shows Scope of Devastating Hawaii FiresChristian Crook via Storyful
Some fire hydrants reportedly ran dry in the early stages of the wildfire, and multiple warning systems across Maui either failed or were not activated.
A class-action lawsuit has been filed against Hawaiian Electric, the state’s biggest power firm, claiming the company should have shut off its power lines to lower the risk of fire.
Matters of overall responsibility are also subject to debate.
During an interview with ABC News on Tuesday, FEMA spokesperson John Mills responded to the Department of Defense punting questions on disaster relief in Hawaii to FEMA, as Breitbart News reported.
Mills stated “The state is in charge, and Maui County plays an outsized role in requests.” And answered a question on who is ultimately responsible by stating that “We’re listening to local officials about where our staff can deliver the most good.”