My heart, my prayers, and my focus are on 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. 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.
From day one we immediately authorized three Fire Management Assistance Grants and as soon as Governor Green requested a Major Disaster Declaration, I signed it. My Administration has mobilized a whole-of-government response effort with more than 1,000 federal personnel on the ground in Maui, including nearly 450 search and rescue team members. Jill and I are eager to meet with the brave first responders in Lahaina tomorrow, to spend time with families and community members, and witness firsthand what will be required for the community to recover. We will be here as long as it takes for Maui.
FACT SHEET: Biden-Harris Administration’s Latest Actions to Support Communities Impacted by Maui Wildfires
More than 1,000 Federal personnel are on the ground in Maui
to aid response efforts
As soon as receiving the state’s request, President Biden signed a Major Disaster Declaration for the state and launched a whole-of-government effort to support residents and communities affected by this unprecedented tragedy. On Monday, August 21, President Biden and First Lady Jill Biden will travel to Maui to meet with survivors, first responders and emergency personnel, and state and local officials. Our entire nation stands with Hawaii in this time of grief and recovery.
Since the onset of the fires in Maui, President Biden has remained in close contact with Hawaii Governor Josh Green, affirming that the Federal government will continue to provide whatever support is needed to ensure the state’s recovery, however long it may take. The President has also received regular briefings from FEMA Administrator Deanne Criswell and Homeland Security Advisor Liz Sherwood-Randall.
Dozens of Federal departments and agencies, including the Department of Homeland Security through FEMA and the Coast Guard, the Department of Defense through the Navy and Army, the Department of Health and Human Services, the U.S. Forest Service, the Small Business Administration (SBA), the Environmental Protection Agency, and more continue working with state and local partners on the ground to assess ongoing needs and provide resources and personnel to support response efforts.
The Administration encourages individuals impacted by the disaster to register for Federal assistance at www.disasterassistance.gov or by calling 1-800-621-3362 (24 hours a day, 7 days a week).
Impacted individuals can also visit FEMA’s newly opened joint Disaster Recovery Center at the University of Hawaii Maui College, located at 310 W. Ka’ahumanu Avenue, Kahului, Hawaii, to speak personally with FEMA specialists, get assistance registering for disaster assistance, get in touch with voluntary organizations offering additional support services, and have access to other federal and state resources. The doors are open from 8 a.m. to 7 p.m. HST seven days a week.
Here is an update on the Biden-Harris Administration’s coordinated federal response:
- As of Sunday, August 20, there are more than 1,000 federal personnel on the ground in Maui assisting residents in their greatest time of need, including nearly 450 search and rescue team members. FEMA’s Disaster Survivor Assistance teams are going to shelters and survivors’ homes to help people register for assistance.
- To date, the Biden-Harris Administration has approved more than $8 million in assistance to nearly 2,500 households, including nearly $3 million in initial rental assistance.
- FEMA has made available more than 50,000 meals, 75,000 liters of water, 5,000 cots and 10,000 blankets and shelter supplies to the county government for distribution.
- Thanks to the significant partnership between the Hawaii Fire Relief Housing program administered by the American Red Cross and funded by FEMA, the number of survivors in congregate shelters was reduced by 50% on Thursday. The Red Cross expects to move all survivors who are still in shelters into hotel rooms by next week. More than 300 Red Cross staff are working with partners to ensure people receive help as quickly as possible.
- Last week, President Biden made additional disaster funding available to the state of Hawaii, unlocking the federal government’s ability to cover all eligible expenses for debris removal and emergency protective measures in Maui County and assistance for emergency protective measures for Hawaii County. The President authorized the federal cost share to be increased from 75% to 100% for 30 days that the Governor selects within the first 120 days.
- Nearly 650 personnel from the Department of Defense and 140 members of the Coast Guard are actively participating in the coordinated response to the Western Maui Wildfire. They are assisting with fire suppression, searching debris for remains, distributing fuel, and providing additional life-sustaining support.
- The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers has deployed 62 responders, 16 remote personnel, and 43 contractors who are assisting with public works and engineering support, which includes installing 15 generators for temporary emergency power, planning for debris collection and removal, and scoping potential requirements for temporary construction of critical public facilities such as schools, fire and police stations.
- The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has deployed nearly 50 responders to Maui following the Hawaii wildfires and has a full incident command team on the ground working closely with FEMA and other federal, state, and local partners. The agency’s efforts are focused on identifying, removing, and safely disposing of household hazardous waste and disaster debris to protect residents from environmental and health hazards. This is the next step in the recovery process before the clearing of debris. EPA’s response efforts while on Maui will be guided by its cultural resources and historic properties plan that the agency is working to develop with the Hawaii State Historic Preservation Division. This plan will help responders identify, protect, and properly handle cultural resources, which were significantly impacted during the wildfire.
- The Department of Energy (DOE) has deployed emergency responders to support the Federal response to the wildfires in Maui. DOE is working closely with the Federal Emergency Management Agency, Hawaii State Energy Office, and the Hawaii Office of Emergency Management and has been in contact with Hawaiian Electric to identify and address any unmet needs.
- The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) Administration for Strategic Preparedness and Response (ASPR) deployed 95 responders from ASPR, including experts from the National Disaster Medical System’s Disaster Mortuary Operational Response Team and a Victim Identification Center team to assist Maui County with victim identification. Secretary Becerra issued a Public Health Emergency shortly after the President’s disaster declaration, giving CMS health care providers and suppliers greater flexibility in meeting emergency health needs of Medicare and Medicaid beneficiaries on the ground. HHS’ Disaster Distress Helpline – 1-800-985-5990 – is available to provide immediate counseling to anyone affected by the wildfires.
- The U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) has more than 30 staff on the ground in Hawaii and are phasing in more. Survivors and businesses who register for FEMA assistance, will also be eligible for low-interest disaster loans. To be considered for all forms of disaster assistance, survivors must contact FEMA. Information and details on the location of business recovery centers is available by calling the SBA Customer Service Center at (800) 659-2955. Additionally, SBA this week opened a Disaster Business Recovery Center (BRC) for survivors of the Maui wildfires – including homeowners, renters, and small business owners – to seek financial assistance. The SBA Recovery Center is located at Hawaii Technology Development Corporation, Maui Research Technology Center, Building # A, Ste. 119 (Conference Room), 590 Lipoa Pkwy, Kihei, HI 96753.
- The U.S. Department of Agriculture Food and Nutrition Service approved waivers, which will allow Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) households in Hawaii, including on Maui, to purchase hot foods with SNAP benefits through September 14; allow package size flexibility for those using the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children (WIC) program through October 31 so they have more options to purchase what is available; and allow parents or guardians to pick up meals for children at grab ‘n go sites.
- The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) is providing a 90-day relief from foreclosures of Federal Housing Administration-insured mortgages and home equity conversion mortgages. Homeowners affected by the disaster should contact their mortgage or loan servicer immediately. They can also call the FHA Resource Center at 1-800-304-9320 for additional information and visit the FHA Disaster Relief site to learn more about disaster relief options for FHA homeowners. HUD also released regulatory and administrative waivers to help communities accelerate their recovery. This includes funding for housing rehabilitation and reconstruction, homebuyer programs replacing disaster damaged residences, infrastructure improvements and assistance to people at risk of homelessness. HUD has assigned experienced Disaster Technical Assistance providers that will be available remotely and, on the ground, to support local leaders help communities and families that were experiencing homelessness before the devastating fires and those that may require homeless services because of the fires.
- The U.S. Consumer Financial Protection Bureau has created a disaster and emergencies guide to handling finances, including resources to help impacted residents recover, such as tackling housing issues, protecting your finances, dealing with property damage, managing your bills, and asking for help from financial companies like banks, credit cards and other lenders. If residents are having trouble with a financial company, they can submit a complaint online or by calling (855) 411-CFPB (2372).
- The Heritage Emergency National Task Force (HENTF), a partnership between FEMA and Smithsonian Institution, is in contact with the National Heritage Responders: Hawaii cultural heritage emergency network. Working in partnership through the Hawaii Emergency Management Agency, HENTF is ensuring that museums and cultural heritage sites are incorporated into FEMA preliminary damage assessments to anticipate needs associated with long-term recovery planning.