More than 1,000 Federal personnel are on the ground on Maui
to aid response efforts
$12 million in assistance to over 3,300 households approved to date
On, Monday, August 21, President Biden and First Lady Jill Biden traveled to Maui, where they met emergency responders, survivors, community members, as well as federal, state, and local officials, and saw firsthand the overwhelming destruction caused by the wildfires. They also saw the courage and resilience of the people of Maui. As the President made clear, he is committed to delivering everything the people of Hawaiʻi need, and his Administration will be there as long as it takes to complete response efforts. Throughout this process, the Administration is focused on respecting sacred lands, cultures, and traditions.
Since the onset of this unprecedented tragedy, President Biden launched a whole-of-government effort to support residents and affected communities – and as soon as Hawaiʻi Governor Josh Green requested a Major Disaster Declaration, the President signed it. As the recovery moves into the next phase, President Biden on Monday appointed FEMA Region 9 Administrator Bob Fenton as the Chief Federal Response Coordinator for Maui. In this role, Fenton will oversee the Federal government’s long-term recovery work on the ground.
Thousands of personnel from across dozens of Federal departments and agencies continue working with state and local partners on the ground to assess ongoing needs and provide resources and personnel to support response efforts.
Below are updated statistics and actions from the Biden-Harris Administration’s whole of government response, including a new U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) announcement of a $1.3 million funding allocation to help communities on Maui in the wake of the wildfires through HUD’s new Rapid Unsheltered Survivor Housing (RUSH) program, a rapid response program to address homelessness by filling in federal assistance gaps in communities hit by disasters.
The Administration encourages individuals impacted by the disaster to register for Federal assistance at www.disasterassistance.gov or by calling 1-800-621-3362 (24 hours a day, 7 days a week). Additionally, as we work to provide communications to meet the needs of those impacted by the Hawaiʻi wildfires, FEMA has multiple language translations available.
Impacted individuals can also visit FEMA’s newly opened joint Disaster Recovery Center at the University of Hawaiʻi Maui College, located at 310 W. Ka’ahumanu Avenue, Kahului, Hawaiʻi, to speak personally with FEMA specialists, get assistance registering for disaster assistance, get in touch with voluntary organizations offering additional support services, and have access to other federal and state resources. The doors are open from 8 a.m. to 7 p.m. HST seven days a week.
Here is an update on the Biden-Harris Administration’s coordinated federal response:
- As of Tuesday, August 22, there are more than 1,000 federal personnel on the ground on Maui assisting residents in their greatest time of need, including more than 400 search and rescue team members and 40 canines trained to identify remains. FEMA’s Disaster Survivor Assistance teams are going to shelters and survivors’ homes to help people register for assistance.
- To date, the Biden-Harris Administration has approved more than $12 million in assistance to over 3,300 households, including nearly $5 million in initial rental assistance.
- FEMA has made available more than 50,000 meals, 75,000 liters of water, 5,000 cots and 10,000 blankets and shelter supplies to the county government for distribution.
- Thanks to the significant partnership between the Hawaiʻi Fire Relief Housing program administered by the American Red Cross and funded by FEMA, all congregate shelters have been closed as more than 2,500 residents have successfully been moved into hotels. More than 350 Red Cross disaster responders are working in coordination with partners to ensure people receive help as quickly as possible.
- Last week, President Biden made additional disaster funding available to the state of Hawaiʻi, unlocking the federal government’s ability to cover all eligible expenses for debris removal and emergency protective measures in Maui County and assistance for emergency protective measures for Hawaiʻi County. The President authorized the federal cost share to be increased from 75% to 100% for 30 days that the Governor selects within the first 120 days.
- Nearly 700 personnel from the Department of Defense and 158 members of the Coast Guard are actively participating in the coordinated response to the Western Maui Wildfire. They are assisting with fire suppression, searching debris for remains, distributing fuel, installing generators for emergency power, assisting with dive operations, providing grief counseling and emotional support, and providing additional life-sustaining support.
- The Federal Bureau of Investigation’s Honolulu Division is assisting the Maui Police Department with their efforts to locate and identify those who are missing or may be victims of the wildfires in Lahaina, Hawaii, by helping collect DNA samples from family members. Family members are encouraged to visit family assistance centers in Maui to provide a DNA sample or reach out to the FBI at (808) 566-4300 or to HN-COMMAND-POST@ic.fbi.gov for guidance.
- The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers has deployed 67 responders, 16 remote personnel, and 44 contractors who are assisting with public works and engineering support, which includes installing 17 generators for temporary emergency power, planning for debris collection and removal, and scoping potential requirements for temporary construction of critical public facilities such as schools, fire and police stations.
- The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has deployed more than 60 responders to Maui following the Hawaiʻi wildfires and has a full incident command team on the ground working closely with FEMA and other federal, state, and local partners. The agency’s efforts are focused on identifying, removing, and safely disposing of household hazardous waste and disaster debris to protect residents from environmental and health hazards. This is the next step in the recovery process before the clearing of debris. EPA’s response efforts while on Maui will be guided by its cultural resources and historic properties plan that the agency is working to develop with the Hawaiʻi State Historic Preservation Division. This plan will help responders identify, protect, and properly handle cultural resources, which were significantly impacted during the wildfire.
- The Department of the Interior (DOI) is supporting firefighting and search and rescue operations while working to protect natural and cultural resources on Maui in coordination with federal and state partners. DOI personnel are also assisting with assessment and recovery operations, working to determine impacts to wildlife habitats — including coral reefs — as well as assessing the potential for debris-flow and ash sediment run-off. The Department is in close contact with Native Hawaiian leaders and organizations to coordinate the availability of services, information, and culturally sensitive opportunities for engagement and healing.
- The Department of Energy (DOE) has deployed emergency responders to support the Federal response to the wildfires in Maui. DOE is working closely with the Federal Emergency Management Agency, Hawaiʻi State Energy Office, and the Hawaiʻi Office of Emergency Management.
- The Department of Commerce’s National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) is providing enhanced monitoring of the areas affected by the wildfires using high-resolution monitoring tools to detect potential flood threats due to increased runoff potential from burn scar areas. Additionally, the Department of Commerce’s National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA), through FirstNet – a public-private partnership between the First Responder Network Authority and AT&T – is providing wireless high-speed Internet connectivity and voice communications for first responders and emergency management.
- The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) Administration for Strategic Preparedness and Response (ASPR) has deployed 95 responders from ASPR, including experts from the National Disaster Medical System’s Disaster Mortuary Operational Response Team and a Victim Identification Center team to assist Maui County with victim identification. ASPR also deployed a portable morgue unit to help with processing human remains and additional personnel to bolster mental health staff and resources available at Lahaina Comprehensive Health Center. In addition, ASPR activated the Emergency Prescription Assistance Program, a federal program that helps people in a federally-identified disaster area who do not have health insurance get the prescription drugs, vaccinations, medical supplies, and equipment that they need. Secretary Becerra also issued a Public Health Emergency shortly after the President’s disaster declaration, giving CMS health care providers and suppliers greater flexibility in meeting emergency health needs of Medicare and Medicaid beneficiaries on the ground. HHS’ Disaster Distress Helpline – 1-800-985-5990 – is available to provide immediate counseling to anyone affected by the wildfires.
- The U.S. Small Business Administration’s (SBA) Office of Disaster Recovery and Resilience has 46 staff on the ground in Hawaiʻi and more are being phased in. Survivors and businesses who register for FEMA assistance will also be eligible for low-interest disaster loans. To be considered for all forms of disaster assistance, survivors must contact FEMA. Information and details on the location of business recovery center and disaster recovery center are available by calling the SBA Customer Service Center at (800) 659-2955. SBA continues to operate a Disaster Business Recovery Center (BRC) for survivors of the Maui wildfires and is part of the multi-agency presence at the Disaster Recovery Center (DRC). These Centers provide services to survivors including homeowners, renters, and small business owners seeking financial assistance. The SBA Recovery Center is located at Hawaiʻi Technology Development Corporation, Maui Research Technology Center, Building #A, Ste. 119 (Conference Room), 590 Lipoa Pkwy, Kihei, HI 96753.
SBA is also conducting outreach to businesses throughout Maui County to take advantage of the Economic Injury Disaster Loan program, and staff are working with survivors where they are by conducting outreach in shelters, state-run Family Assistance Centers, and door-to-door campaigns.
- The U.S. Department of Agriculture Food and Nutrition Service approved waivers, including those that will allow Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) households in Hawaiʻi, including on Maui, to purchase hot foods with SNAP benefits through September 14; allow package size flexibility for those using the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children (WIC) program through October 31 so they have more options to purchase what is available; and allow parents or guardians to pick up meals for children at grab ‘n go sites. Additionally, the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Forest Service has deployed a Burned Area Emergency Response team to analyze and map the impacts of the fire to watersheds, including the potential for runoff and debris flows to carry hazardous materials, and support state and local staff in assessing post-fire watershed conditions and post-fire slope stability issues.
- The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) is announcing today a $1.3 million funding allocation to help communities on Maui in the wake of the wildfires through the department’s new Rapid Unsheltered Survivor Housing (RUSH) program, a rapid response program to address homelessness by filling in federal assistance gaps in communities hit by disasters. RUSH funding is available to help communities provide outreach, emergency shelter, rapid re-housing, and other assistance to people experiencing or at risk of homelessness who are in a disaster affected area but who cannot access all services provided by FEMA programs.
Additionally, HUD is providing a 90-day relief from foreclosures of Federal Housing Administration-insured mortgages and home equity conversion mortgages. Homeowners affected by the disaster should contact their mortgage or loan servicer immediately. They can also call the FHA Resource Center at 1-800-304-9320 for additional information and visit the FHA Disaster Relief site to learn more about disaster relief options for FHA homeowners. HUD also released regulatory and administrative waivers to help communities accelerate their recovery. This includes funding for housing rehabilitation and reconstruction, homebuyer programs replacing disaster damaged residences, infrastructure improvements and assistance to people at risk of homelessness. HUD has assigned experienced Disaster Technical Assistance providers that will be available remotely and, on the ground, to support local leaders help communities and families that were experiencing homelessness before the devastating fires and those that may require homeless services because of the fires.
- The U.S. Consumer Financial Protection Bureau has created a disaster and emergencies guide to handling finances, including resources to help impacted residents recover, such as tackling housing issues, protecting your finances, dealing with property damage, managing your bills, and asking for help from financial companies like banks, credit cards and other lenders. If residents are having trouble with a financial company, they can submit a complaint online or by calling (855) 411-CFPB (2372).
- The U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) has made available $3 million, the full amount of “quick release” Emergency Relief (ER) funds requested by the Hawaiʻi Department of Transportation (HDOT), to offset costs associated with traffic management services in the wake of the wildfires. Additionally, DOT currently has three temporary flight restrictions in place to help facilitate search and rescue missions and has worked with major U.S. airlines that serve Kahului Airport to promote flexible travel policies.
- The Heritage Emergency National Task Force (HENTF), a partnership between FEMA and Smithsonian Institution, is working through the Hawaiʻi Emergency Management Agency to ensure that museums and cultural heritage sites are incorporated into FEMA preliminary damage assessments to anticipate needs associated with long-term recovery planning.