The head of FEMA says, “Nothing can prepare you for the destruction of the Hawaii wildfire.”
FEMA Administrator Deanne Criswell talked about how scary things were on Maui after wildfires killed at least 96 people; this was the deadliest wildfire in the United States in over a century.
Criswell told reporters at the White House on Monday via video from Hawaii, “Nothing can prepare you for what I saw during my time here, and nothing can prepare them for the emotional toll that this terrible event has taken.” He was speaking from Hawaii.
She said there are more than 300 FEMA workers on the ground and that they have given out 50,000 meals, 75,000 litres of water, 5,000 beds, and 10,000 blankets. Others have put the cost of the wildfires at around $5.6 billion. FEMA still needs to put out its first estimates of how much the fires will cost.
Criswell said, “It’s too early to say how much the whole thing will cost.” “We’ll have a better idea of how much the whole thing will cost when we can get into the area and see how bad the damage is.”
FEMA has started moving people out of shelters and into hotel rooms.
Criswell said, “This will let them move temporarily from shelters to hotels or motels that have already been chosen while they work on their long-term housing plans.”
Criswell said that the state’s governor, Josh Green, is also working with Airbnb to find places for Hawaiians who have been forced to leave their homes.
“We’re already seeing a lot of resilience in the community because people are coming together to help each other figure out how this will affect them in the future.”
Criswell said that search and rescue efforts are ongoing, but dangerous conditions complicate things. Maui Police Chief John Pelletier said on Saturday that search dogs have only been through 3% of the disaster area in the old town of Lahaina so far.
Criswell said, “We want to make sure that we do this as quickly as possible, but in a methodical, appropriate way, and sensitive to different cultures.” This is to make sure that we can account for everyone. “So we need to give them space and time to do that.”