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Ahead of Maui visit, President Biden says ‘my heart, my focus’ are with Lahaina victims

HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) – President Biden once again pledged sweeping disaster aid for Maui and offered condolences to victims’ families as he prepares to visit fire-ravaged Lahaina.

Biden will visit Maui on Monday to meet with survivors, first responders and government officials.

In a statement on Sunday, the president said “my heart, my prayers and my focus” are with the victims of the Maui wildfires and their families. “I know how profoundly loss can impact a family and a community and I know nothing can replace the loss of life,” he said.

HNN will carry special coverage of the president’s visit online and on air starting at 11 a.m.

“I will do everything in my power to help Maui recover and rebuild from this tragedy. And throughout our efforts, we are focused on respecting sacred lands, cultures, and traditions.”

Maui is preparing for the presidential visit as the grim work of searching for remains in historic Lahaina continues. Teams armed with cadaver dogs have searched about 85% of the town.

In an interview with CBS’ Face the Nation on Sunday, Gov. Josh Green said the final 15% of the town not yet searched includes larger buildings, where remains might be more difficult to recover.

In a post on Instagram on Sunday night, Maui Mayor Richard Bissen put the number of unaccounted for at 850. That new figure, down from as many as 2,000, was compiled by the FBI.

“We are both saddened and relieved about these numbers,” Bissen said.

He added that the number of fatalities identified will continue to rise.


Biden’s visit is happening just shy of two weeks after the ferocious blaze tore through the community, leaping with frightening speed from house to house and business to business.

In places, the temperature of the fire exceeded 2,000 degrees.

In his statement, Biden said more than 1,000 federal personnel are on the ground to aid in the recovery. Of those, roughly half are search-and-rescue team members.

Others are helping with disaster aid.

To date, FEMA has approved about $8 million in aid to nearly 2,000 households. The agency has also made more than 50,000 meals available and some 75,000 liters of water.


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