President Joe Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris declined a potential trip to Hawaii amid devastating fire damage on the island of Maui. The vice president told reporters this week that neither she nor Biden would visit in order not to “distract” from current emergency efforts.
“We don’t want to distract from the resources that need to go in to the victims of this tragedy, and of course, the needs of the first responders have to be able to focus on that issue and not worry about focusing on us,” the vice president said.
Biden and Harris Refuse to Visit Maui Because They Feel Their Presence Would ‘Distract’ Relief Efforts
— Townhall.com (@townhallcom) August 13, 2023
Harris also said that the White House was “coordinating federal resources to swiftly get there to support the work in terms of recovery but to just support the folks on the ground. It is tragic.”
The vice president stated that both she and Biden were “deeply concerned” about the current situation.
The president declared the unfolding fire a major disaster last week and authorized sending food and water.
The announcement came amid sobering visuals and statistics out of Hawaii. Maui officials stated that the death toll as of Monday morning was about 100, with more fatalities expected. In addition, the fires have destroyed more than 2,000 on the tropical island.
The fires devastated the former Hawaiian Kingdom capital of Lahaina.
Hawaii Gov. Josh Green (D) partially blamed the devastating fires on the effects of climate change.
During an interview on MSNBC, the governor called the situation a “fire hurricane” that produced “1,000-degree heat creating fire cyclones going through buildings.”
He described the current situation in Lahaina as a “war zone.”
Green also cited winds from Hurricane Dora as an additional factor. While the hurricane did not directly impact Maui, the governor believes that its winds and current drought conditions helped bring on the fire.
“That’s what a fire hurricane is going to look like in the era of global warming,” the governor said.
He argued that climate change is “very real for us and everywhere.”