Number of missing drops from hundreds to 66 in Hawaii
The state governor approved $25m for business recovery and announced the return of tourism soon.
A month after the deadly US fires reached the town of Lahaina, the governor of Hawaii, Josh Green, said on Friday that the number of missing people had dropped to 66 and confirmed that the death toll is still 115, and authorities will soon escort residents on visits to their properties.
Tens of millions of dollars in aid will make its way to families and businesses as they recover, Green said, and beginning October 8, travel restrictions will end and West Maui will reopen to visitors.“If we support Maui’s economy and keep our people employed, they will heal faster and continue to afford to live on Maui,” Green said.
He mentioned that donations from around the world have poured into the American Red Cross, the Hawaii Community Foundation, the Maui United Way, and other organizations and that he has authorized $100m from the federal Temporary Assistance for Needy Families program “to support what others donate, magnifying the power of their generosity”.
It is anticipated that the government is also making $25m available to help businesses survive, distributed in grants of $10,000 to $20,000, he said.
Origins of the fire
Within hours, the August 8, 2023 fire started in the hills above the historic oceanfront town, spreading through homes and apartment buildings, quaint city streets, and restaurants, destroying more than 2,000 structures. That said, dozens of people fled to the ocean seeking refuge from the fire, which has caused an estimated $5.5bn in damage.
Who should be held responsible?
Both Green and Maui county officials were criticized for not being prepared for the wildfire and the disorganization after the fire broke out. “Should we have invested more in fire prevention? Of course, of course. But we’d never had a fire of this consequence,” Green said. Instead, he said, people have been more focused on more commonly occurring tragedies such as car accidents or drug overdoses.
The governor suggested lawsuits filed against various state and county entities have prevented those in positions of authority from speaking out more. “I can’t speak to when people will apologize for this tragedy. I’m heartbroken, and I will tell you and anyone out there, ‘I’m so sorry you went through this.’ Of course. I’m just one person,” he said.
“It’s the world who has to apologize for what we have become, where we have become a world where we turn our backs on global warming and where we didn’t prioritize things in advance,” Green said.
On that note, the response of the US federal government to the Maui wildfires, which have tragically claimed the lives of hundreds, is currently facing intense scrutiny.
A resident of Hawaii informed NewsNation of their dissatisfaction with governmental action on the Island, stating, "On a federal level, there’s been absolutely no help."