21.06.2024

Biden promises to assist survivors for ‘as long as it takes’ as death toll hits 115

President Joe Biden met with first responders and survivors in Maui as he surveys the damage wrought by the devastating wildfires which have so far claimed 115 victims.

After facing criticism for his response to the disaster, the president and First Lady Jill Biden travelled from Nevada to Hawaii.

There, Mr Biden promised the people of Lahaina the government would be with them “for as long as it takes.”

He added: “May God bless all those we’ve lost, may God find those who we haven’t determined yet, and may God bless you all.”

Richard Bissen, the mayor of Maui said around 850 people are still missing.

The search to find and identify victims remains painstakingly slow — only 27 victims have so far been identified, with families of 16 of those yet to be notified.

While Maui turns to efforts to rebuild the community, locals are now bracing for potential storm effects as the remnants of post-tropical cyclone Fernanda head to the state.

Heavy rainfall is expected between Monday afternoon and Tuesday morning, according to the National Weather Service.

President Biden and First Lady arrive in Maui

Officials take preventative measures over toxins spreading to ocean

Officials in Maui are preparing for mudslides or possibly flooding as remnants of tropical cyclone Fernanda is expected to hit parts of Hawaii.

The National Weather Service predicted parts of Maui could receive one to three inches and warned residents to be aware of flooding as burned land can not soak up rainwater.

But another issue is the potential of toxins, released from houses and businesses burning down, running off into the ocean.

Federal and local officials said they were trying to prevent the toxins from spilling into the ocean by using a glue-like material to bind ash and debris.

Fences will be built near the coast and hay bales will be placed near storm drains to reduce the spread of pollution as well.

Maui Fire Department says ‘no active threat’ at this time despite burning fires

Although the wildfires in Olinda, Kula, Lahaina and Pulehu/Kihei are not extinguished, the Maui Fire Department reassured the public that there were “no active fire threats” at this time.

The fires in Olinda and Kula were approximately 85 per cent contained with over 1,200 acres of land burned thus far.

The Lahaina fire was 90 per cent contained with more than 2,100 acres of land burned.

The Pulehu / Kihei fire is 100 per cent contained as of 12 August – though this does not mean they are extinguished just that firefighters have completely surrounded the perimeter of the fire.

“The fires are not advancing, but full containment can be more difficult to establish and determine in urban settings.”

The Maui Fire Department is continuing to use infrared technology, water drops and firefighters to locate hot spots.

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