by WorldTribune Staff, August 29, 2023
An indigenous resident of Lahaina who lost her home, her animals, her car, her medicine, and her rent money in the wildfires that devastated Maui said in an Aug. 25 social media post that she and everyone she knows had yet to see any assistance from Team Biden and the aid that was pledged, $700 per household, was a joke.
Upon hearing of Biden’s visit to Hawaii, the woman said: “I think Joe Biden should take his $700 and get back on the f—ing plane and go home.”
Much like the residents of East Palestine, Ohio who slammed the Biden team’s response to the train derailment and chemical spill in February which devastated their town, Maui residents say they are getting no respect and no much-needed information from the administration.
“We’re not being treated like we’re U.S. citizens,” Mike Cicchino told “NewsNation Prime”. “I can’t speak for everybody, but we feel like we’re not getting any help out here at least from the federal government. They are helping, from what I understand, down on the ground to look for bodies, to clear out rubble, those types of things. But as far as the people that were displaced, financially, they’ve been no help.”
While locals continue to maintain that the death toll is much higher than the official tally of 115 people is, with hundreds still unaccounted for, the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) authorized one-time grants of $700 per household as part of Team Biden’s disaster relief.
“We feel like we just got out of a fight for our life. Now, we’re back in another fight for our life to find a home, to find a place to rest our head at night,” Cicchino said. “We’re not getting any help from (the) federal government so far. We never received the $700, which I mean wouldn’t go very far here in Hawaii. We’re mostly getting help from private organizations and nonprofits.”
When he interrupted yet another of his vacations last week to visit Hawaii for one day, furious Maui residents greeted Joe Biden with signs telling him to go home and demanding more federal disaster relief.
On person had written a sign contrasting the money spent on Ukraine with the assistance sent to Hawaii — calculating that each Ukrainian has received over $1,700 since the war broke out in February 2022.
The indigenous woman who lost everything in the fires also slammed Team Biden’s blank checkbook for Ukraine compared with its paltry response to the Maui disaster.
An indigenous Lahaina local tells me she lost her house, pets, medicine and cash savings. She can’t get a call back from FEMA and has yet to see any type of US aid relief.
She says Joe Biden should keep his insulting $700 because of the “gazillions” he’s sending Ukraine. pic.twitter.com/FLNgMdemtq
— Jeremy Loffredo (@loffredojeremy) August 25, 2023
Videos and photos posted to social media by survivors showed “charred cars stuck in traffic jams on one of the only roads out of town, burnt homes that likely contain the unidentifiable remains of the dead, as well as survivors speaking about their ordeals,” the Post Millennial reported.
Residents also called out Maui officials for their response, noting that one official who was in charge of making sure there was enough water to fight the fires delayed a request to divert water to protect people and homes for five hours while waiting for a report from a local farmer as to the impact on “diversity” of that water diversion.
Another official said that he declined to sound warning sirens to alert residents of the imminent danger because the sirens have historically been used for tsunamis. The warning system itself was also found to be faulty. Residents said that if they had another 10 to 15 minutes notice, families could have been saved. Entire families perished while they were in their homes or cars with no way to escape.
Independent journalist Anthony Cabassa reported that a leaked letter from the Department of Homeland Security reveals that FEMA was asked by Maui officials to “pause on posting on social media and elsewhere new imagery of damage/disaster/debris starting now.”
The letter was sent Aug. 19, more than 10 days after the wildfires ripped through Lahaina.
EXCLUSIVE 🚨 | A person wishing to stay anonymous has sent me this email by FEMA sent to their nonprofit who is headed to Maui to help with disaster relief.
They say they are being asked to STOP posting any images or videos while on the ground effective immediately. pic.twitter.com/hdZy5ubwvv
— Anthony Cabassa (@AnthonyCabassa_) August 21, 2023
Meanwhile, Hawaiian Electric is claiming that it had de-energized all its power lines in West Maui hours before the wildfires broke out on the afternoon of August 8. The claim contradicts those made in lawsuits filed by Maui county and others against the energy company, accusing it of “inexcusably [keeping] their power lines energized during forecasted high fire danger conditions.”
In a news release, HE said that while a downed power line did spark a fire on the morning of August 8, it was quickly attended to and “100% contained. The company went on to state that records “conclusively establish” that power lines to Lahaina bad been de-energized for six hours when the afternoon fire broke out.
“We were surprised and disappointed that the County of Maui rushed to court even before completing its own investigation,” HE CEO Shelee Kimura said. “We believe the complaint is factually and legally irresponsible.”
She went on to slam the lawsuits as “inconsistent with the path that we believe we should pursue as a resilient community committed and accountable to each other as well as to Hawaii’s future,” and warned that it “may leave [the company] no choice in the legal system but to show [the county’s] responsibility for what happened that day.”
Maui County claimed in its lawsuit that the “severe and catastrophic” losses incurred as a result of the wildfires “could have easily been prevented” if Hawaiian Electric had moved to shut down power at the proper time.