Joe Biden, the president, will go to fire-ravaged Maui on Monday to see firsthand the destruction caused by an inferno more than a week ago and to evaluate the government response, which some locals first felt was inadequate.
Biden will visit the location of the worst American wildfire in more than a century on Monday. Republicans were the biggest critics of Biden’s initial response to the Maui wildfires earlier this month.
They focused on the roughly five-day gap between his initial remarks about the flames and his next public statement about the catastrophe.
The Maui County mayor estimates that there are still approximately 850 people missing, so the number of fatalities, which is presently at least 114, is still anticipated to grow as rescue workers and cadaver dogs search the burned-out wasteland for victims.
Biden plans to designate a senior federal emergency officer to oversee continuing recovery operations during his visit.
Path to Compassion
The trip will give Biden the chance to show actual compassion for a community that has been affected by the tragedy and to allay some of the early criticism of his initial response, when pictures of him on a Delaware beach made for a striking split screen as the gravity of the tragedy became clear.
Republican accusations that he was downplaying the tragedy after responding curtly with “no comment” when he was questioned about the death toll last Sunday.
Biden allegedly couldn’t hear the question, according to the White House. The president made his first public comments about the flames during a speech in Salt Lake City, and then he didn’t mention them again for nearly five days. Thoughts of a presidential visit were already being made, and Biden was actively involved in crisis management behind the scenes.
Biden spoke over the phone with the governor of Hawaii, Josh Green, to make sure that the significant infrastructure needed for a presidential visit wouldn’t disrupt ongoing response and recovery operations. Green assured him that going on a vacation on Monday wouldn’t cause any issues.
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