Biden to visit Hawaii in aftermath of deadly wildfires

Biden to visit Hawaii in aftermath of deadly wildfires

President, first lady to meet first responders, survivors, federal, state, local officials, White House says

By Iclal Turan

WASHINGTON (AA) - US President Joe Biden and first lady Jill Biden will travel to the state of Hawaii on Monday in the aftermath of the deadly wildfires, the White House announced Wednesday.

The Bidens will meet first responders, survivors, as well as federal, state and local officials, White House spokeswoman Karine Jean-Pierre said in a statement.

"In Maui, the President and First Lady will be welcomed by state and local leaders to see firsthand the impacts of the wildfires and the devastating loss of life and land that has occurred on the island, as well as discuss the next steps in the recovery effort," Jean-Pierre said.

"The President continues to marshal a whole-of-government response to the deadly Maui fires, and he has committed to delivering everything that the people of Hawaii need from the federal government as they recover from this disaster," she added.

During the last week, Biden has stayed in contact with FEMA Administrator Deanne Criswell, Hawaii senators Mazie Hirono and Brian Schatz, as well as Gov. Josh Green, who advised that search and recovery efforts are expected to be at a stage early next week to allow for a presidential visit.

Biden approved the governor's request for an expedited major disaster declaration, proving his dedication to providing the area with whatever it needs, the White House announced Thursday.

The death toll stands at 106, officials said Tuesday.

The US has deployed almost 500 federal personnel to Maui communities to help survivors get back on their feet, said Biden.

The wildfires are the "largest natural disaster Hawaii has ever experienced," said Green. "It's been also a natural disaster that's going to take an incredible amount of time to recover from."

The financial burden caused by the wildfires has reached $6 billion with 2,200 structures destroyed.

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