Yesterday, US President Biden said from Nevada:
My heart, my prayers, and my focus are on the victims of the Maui wildfires and their families. Jill and I are eager to meet with the brave first responders in Lahaina tomorrow, to spend time with families and community members, and to witness firsthand what will be required for the community to recover.
Today the president spent 6 hours on Maui after a 5 1/2-hour flight from Nevada. Air Force 1 touched down at Maui Kahului Airport. The president changed to a US Airforce Helicopter with the call sign Airforce One to continue his short flight to Maui’s West Coast to see the devastation of Lahaina from above before landing in the disaster zone.
Hawaii Governor Josh Green, M.D., and First Lady Jaime Kanani Green accompanied US President Joseph Biden, First Lady Jill Biden, Maui Mayor Richard Bissen, Hawai‘i Congressional Delegation members, Federal Emergency Management Agency Deanne Criswell, and others, on an assessment of the wildfire damage in Lāhainā, Maui, today.
President Biden pledged Maui the ongoing support of the nation. “For as long as it takes, we’re going to be with you, the whole country will be with you,” he said. “We will be respectful of your culture and traditions.”
Governor Green cited previous disasters that Hawai‘i has come through.
“We’ve been through so much together in recent years,” said Governor Green. “Three years of COVID, the volcanic eruptions of 2018 and 2022 that ravaged the Big Island; there are scars in people’s lives left by opioids and homelessness, but none of this has been as tragic as this fire in Lāhainā.”
“Our hearts are broken, and we will heal with the assistance of President Biden; the federal government, and the love and compassion of resources throughout our state, we know we have the support to lift us up as we find those who are lost to deal with the tragedy,” he said.
“The people of Lāhainā will need time to heal, to recover, and to grieve,” he said. “Like we’ve been sharing, and as President Biden said today, Lāhainā belongs to its people and we are committed to rebuilding Lāhainā the way the people of Lāhainā want…this land is for the people of Maui and it is reserved as they return and rebuild,” the Governor said, reiterating that he has asked the state Attorney General to enhance criminal penalties for predatory purchases of fire-devastated real estate.
Governor Green re-emphasized that while travel to West Maui is restricted to returning residents and emergency responders, the rest of Maui and our state remains safe and open for visitors. He encouraged visitors to come, “to support our local economy and speed the recovery.”
“The world is watching, and we will show it the true strength of our culture, our people, and all that we believe. And as they watch us heal, protect and nurture one another, the world will be reminded why it loves and embraces Hawai‘i and we embrace it.”
President and First Lady Biden returned to Nevada on Air Force One this afternoon.