Biden Administration’s Maui Wildfire Response Sparks Anger Among Residents, The Washington Post Reports

Residents of Maui are expressing frustration with the Biden administration’s handling of the wildfire crisis, as reported by The Washington Post. Despite President Biden’s commendation of the Federal Emergency Management Agency’s (FEMA) response and his praise for FEMA Administrator Deanne Criswell, many locals in Maui are feeling neglected and underserved.

According to The Post, residents believe that the government’s efforts have been insufficient, citing slow progress and a lack of essential provisions such as transportation and generators for electricity.

“We hear that we have lots of provisions, whether it be through FEMA or Red Cross, but everybody is on a different page,” Dominick Gambino, a Maui local, said, according to The Post. “Emergency services and organizations that should be coordinated and organized, in the public eyes, have completely fallen through.”

Democratic Hawaii state Rep. Elle Cochran said she has not been included in any government meetings for emergency relief, according to The Post. 

“I am the state House representative, I should be a part of those plans, I should be part of that discussion,” Cochran said. “I have not been. From Day 1, I have been left in the dark. I feel like I’ve been iced out.”

Some local government officials have been reluctant to accept outside volunteer assistance, Cochran told The Post.

“Everything is run with ego and testosterone, that’s the name of the game,” Cochran said, according to The Post. “We are suffering because of it. … We need outside forces to help us.”

The Biden Administration drew more criticism Thursday after Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre urged Maui locals to use online resources for help despite the complete lack of electricity in the area. Vice President Kamala Harris also recommended that residents rely on internet resources for help in a social media post on Thursday afternoon.

“We are isolated, and getting things here is a logistical nightmare,” Emily Johnston, a commercial charter boat captain who helped those impacted by the fire ahead of FEMA’s arrival, said, according to The Post.

Other government officials claimed that FEMA has already been stretched thin by its response to disasters elsewhere, The Post reported.

“A lot is falling on FEMA right now,” Alice Hill, a senior fellow at the Council of Foreign Relations who formerly oversaw climate response strategies for the Obama Administration, said, according to the Washington Post. “The agency is being asked to do the superhuman, but it doesn’t have the resources to do that.”

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