US President Joe Biden is scheduled to visit fire-ravaged Maui on Monday, August 21, to personally assess the aftermath of a devastating wildfire over a week ago. This visit comes after initial criticism of the government’s response to the disaster. The Maui wildfires have been marked as the deadliest American wildfire in over a century. The president’s initial response faced backlash for its delay, with a nearly five-day period between his first comments about the fires and his subsequent public address.
Around 850 people are still missing, and the death toll is expected to rise as emergency teams and cadaver dogs search the scorched landscape for victims. During his visit, Biden is expected to appoint a senior federal emergency official to oversee long-term recovery efforts. This visit allows the president to show compassion towards the affected community and address the criticism over his initial response.
Biden’s earlier silence was scrutinized, especially as he was seen on the beach in Delaware while the tragedy unfolded. Republican critics used this to accuse him of not taking the situation seriously. The White House later clarified that Biden didn’t hear the question regarding the death toll during that time.
Although the president remained silent in public, he was actively coordinating behind the scenes. He had discussions with Hawaii Governor Josh Green to ensure that his visit wouldn’t hinder ongoing response and recovery operations. The president plans to speak with state officials, survivors, and emergency responders during his visit, aiming to demonstrate compassion and commitment to helping the community recover. First Lady Jill Biden will also join him during his visit.
The wildfires in Maui are part of a broader trend of record-breaking high temperatures across the United States this summer. Climate change is contributing to such extreme weather conditions. Biden’s visit comes as a part of his administration’s efforts to provide federal support and resources to help the affected community rebuild and recover. As search and rescue operations continue, the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) has provided assistance and financial aid to those affected.
The president’s visit aims to reassure the community that the federal government is committed to supporting their recovery efforts. Biden will assess the destruction caused by the fires, meet with survivors and first responders, and convey the message that the government is dedicated to helping them rebuild according to their vision. This recovery phase includes debris removal and a shift towards long-term rebuilding efforts. The US Small Business Administration is also evaluating how its disaster relief programs can be tailored to aid in the recovery process.