Daily News Portal

Maui’s emergency management chief resigns – latest update

Wildfire roars through Hawaii’s historic Lahaina

The head of the Maui Emergency Management Agency resigned on Thursday after officials came under increased scrutiny over the response to the devastating wildfires.

Herman Andaya submitted his resignation just one day after he defended his decision of not using outdoor alert sirens before the fires overwhelmed the historic community of Lahaina and killed at least 111 people.

Mr Andaya cited unspecified health reasons, with no further details provided in his letter.

“Given the gravity of the crisis we are facing, my team and I will be placing someone in this key position as quickly as possible,” Maui mayor Richard Bissen said in the statement.

Meanwhile, the search to find and identify victims remains painstakingly slow. Only 10 of the 111 victims so far killed in the fires have been identified.

Residents are also reporting that investors and realtors are trying to capitalise on the wildfires to purchase land from locals. “We’re not going to allow it,” Hawaii governor Josh Green said.

Mr Green said he expects re-building the burned area of Maui to cost $5 billion or more.


Search for missing moves beyond Lahaina

The painstaking search for human remains through a burned-out area of ash and debris in Lahaina has covered at least 45 per cent of houses, governor Josh Green said on Thursday.

Authorities say the search for the missing has moved beyond Lahaina to other communities that were destroyed.

However, it will probably continue for at least another week.

The FBI’s Honolulu division said it is helping Maui police locate and identify missing people. Immediate family members who are on Maui can provide DNA samples at the Hyatt Recency in Kaanapali beginning Friday, and those elsewhere can contact the FBI for instructions.

Ariana Baio20 August 2023 05:00


Video appears to show start of deadly Maui wildfires

Video appears to show start of deadly Maui wildfires

A new video has revealed downed power lines as a possible cause of the wildfires that devestated the Hawaiian island of Maui. Security video shared by a bird sanctuary in Maui captured a flash of light around 11pm local time on 7 August, followed by a bright flame that continued to burn. The new footage has emerged as key evidence pointing to fallen utility lines as the possible cause of the wildfires. “I think that is when a tree is falling on a power line,” Jennifer Pribble, a senior research coordinator at the Maui Bird Conservation Center, said. “The power goes out, our generator kicks in, the camera comes back online, and then the forest is on fire.”

Ariana Baio20 August 2023 02:00


Identifying victims of the Maui wildfire will be a challenging task

Dozens of search crews and cadaver dogs went through devastated areas of Lahaina this week.

The federal government said it dispatched coroners, pathologists, technicians, X-ray units and other equipment to identify victims and process remains.

US Department of Health and Human Services official Jonathan Greene said the work stood to be “ very, very difficult ” and called for patience.

Rapid DNA-testing machines that were used after a 2018 blaze that largely destroyed Paradise, California, also are being put to work in Maui. The instruments, roughly the size of a large computer printer or microwave oven, were developed a decade or so ago and designed for use in the field

In some situations, dental work, prosthetics, surgical implants, fingerprints, tattoos or other body markings can reveal a person’s identity. But the heat and power of a wildfire can destroy these clues, and dental and medical records sometimes are unavailable or difficult to track down.

An intense fire also can leave remains too damaged for DNA extraction, though there have been scientific strides. New York City, notably, has retested fragmentary remains of 9/11 victims as techniques evolved over the years and created new prospects for reading genetic code diminished by fire, sunlight, bacteria and more.

The Associated Press contributed to this report

Ariana Baio20 August 2023 00:00


VOICES: How Biden’s response to Hawaii wildfire disaster went so wrong

“It was a quick, offhanded remark. And one that immediately sparked its own news cycle, as Republicans and other critics jumped on him to insist that the president was unconcerned about the death and destruction.”

Ariana Baio19 August 2023 22:00


White House shows FEMA responders working in Maui

Ariana Baio19 August 2023 20:00


How to help victims of Hawaii wildfires

Thousands of Hawaii citizens have been displaced following wildfires that devastated the historic town of Lahaina in Maui.

Here is a list of resources to help those impacted by the natural disaster.

Ariana Baio19 August 2023 18:00


Fox News criticised for using disgraced ex-FEMA head to attack Biden’s response to Hawaii wildfires

The former FEMA administrator who was critcised for slow rescue efforts amid the damage caused by Hurricane Katrina in 2005 has been accused of hypocrisy after he called President Joe Biden’s response to the Maui wildfires an “abject failure”.

Despite facing his own barrage of criticism when he headed FEMA, Michael D Brown lambasted the president’s response to the fatal fires on Fox News’ The Ingraham Angle. The fires have claimed the lives of at least 111 people, while thousands more have been displaced.

Ariana Baio19 August 2023 16:00


FEMA has paid out more than $5.6m to Maui survivors

The Federal Emergency Management Agency said Friday it has approved more than $5.6 million in assistance to nearly 2,000 households in Maui so far as the federal government tries to help survivors of the devastating wildfires.

The White House and FEMA approved a one-time payment of $700 per household for needs like clothing, food, or transportation. The agency will also pay to put survivors up in hotels and motels and says it has paid out $1.6 million in rental assistance as of Friday.

The amounts are expected to grow significantly. Estimates are that thousands of buildings were damaged or destroyed in the fire, which consumed much of historic community of Lahaina. In the wake of the Northern California wildfire in 2018, which decimated the city of Paradise, FEMA paid out $238 million in assistance.

The Associated Press contributed to this report

Ariana Baio19 August 2023 14:00


Who are the wildfire victims?

Raging wildfires in Maui have left at least 106 people dead and thousands of others missing after they were forced to flee their homes.

“We are heartsick that we’ve had such loss,” Hawaii governor Josh Green said during a news conference on Tuesday.

Ariana Baio19 August 2023 11:00


Watch: Ex-Fema administrator criticises Biden’s response to Maui wildfires

Ex-Fema administrator criticises Biden’s response to Maui wildfires

Ariana Baio19 August 2023 09:00

Read More:Maui’s emergency management chief resigns – latest update