Maui Citizens Continue To Speak Out

People watch as smoke and flames fill the air from raging wildfires on Front Street in downtown Lahaina, Maui on Tuesday, Aug. 8, 2023. Maui officials say wildfire in the historic town has burned parts of one of the most popular tourist areas in Hawaii. County of Maui spokesperson Mahina Martin said in a phone interview early Wednesday says fire was widespread in Lahaina, including Front Street, an area of the town popular with tourists. (Alan Dickar via AP

The fire raging through Lahaina, a historic village of Maui, in Hawaii, has left residents devastated after claiming over one hundred lives and leaving hundreds more missing. Amidst the catastrophic repercussions of the unprecedented wildfire, the federal government has taken a largely passive approach. As residents attempt to rebuild their lives while dealing with the trauma inflicted by the disaster, their outrage is directed toward the administration of President Joe Biden and its inadequate response.

Mike Cicchino, a wildfire survivor, spoke out against the President and his administration in an interview with “NewsNation Prime”. According to Cicchino, he and his wife Andreza had to flee into the ocean, struggling to stay above the water for three hours, and when they returned to shore, their home and business were gone. He told the interviewer that he and other citizens were left to fend for themselves without much assistance from the federal government. “We are the 50th state here and we’re not being treated like we’re U.S. citizens,” he said. “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. We’re not getting any help from (the) federal government so far.”

Though Biden was praised for declaring a state of emergency, the response as a whole has been largely perceived as insufficient. His reluctance to address the rising death toll, followed by a brief one-day trip to survey the damage, during which he weakly compared the disaster to his own kitchen fire, has angered locals. He was also accused of taking two vacation days in Lake Tahoe amidst the wreckage.

In a statement, the White House addressed the islanders’ anger. “The President remains deeply focused on the crisis in Hawaii,” the statement read. “He has taken numerous steps to ensure that the victims of the wildfires are provided the resources and assistance they need, including providing damage relief, expediting the process of debris removal, and offering federal support to local and state partners on the ground. President Biden is committed to doing everything in his power to help the people of Hawaii.”

In the meantime, private organizations and non-profits have stepped up to offer financial and other types of assistance to affected communities. Though they are thankful for the support, citizens remain disheartened by the government’s lack of engagement.

Nevertheless, understanding their plight, the Biden administration is taking steps to increase its involvement and effectiveness and hopes to come to the aid of the citizens of Maui.

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