CINDY ELLEN RUSSELL / AUG. 26
Workers assisted people at a Lahaina Federal Resource Fair held at the Lahaina Civic Center Gym on Aug, 26. People received help with passport replacement, federal disaster aid, housing assistance and other important services.
Given how bitterly polarized Washington is today, it’s rare when leaders of both parties agree on something. Yet in the weeks following the devastating fires on Maui, that’s exactly what we’ve seen. We’ve repeatedly heard from President Joe Biden, House Speaker Kevin McCarthy and colleagues on both sides of the aisle that they are committed to helping Maui.
Many of them, including the president and speaker, have visited Maui to see the destruction in person. They heard heartbreaking stories from survivors of loss and grief and about the urgent need for help to get back on their feet.
Since President Biden’s federal disaster declaration on August 10th, we’ve seen a historic mobilization of federal resources for Hawaii. More than $200 million in federal aid has already been allocated and more than a thousand federal emergency response personnel have been on the ground helping people and undertaking an enormous clean-up operation.
The help is welcome and needed. But we’re clear eyed about the fact this will not be a weeks- or even months-long endeavor. Short-term relief won’t be enough. Maui’s recovery will take years, and while its course will be determined by its people, the federal government will need to provide billions of dollars in aid.
Major infrastructure from roads and highways to water facilities and waste water treatment plants to Lahaina’s Small Boat Harbor and county parks — require extensive repair. While it’s critical this rebuilding process is guided by the vision of the Lahaina community, all of this work will take substantial resources, much of which will need to come from the federal government.
We have already received a great deal of support from the federal government. Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) personnel began helping survivors get assistance just days after the fires. So far, FEMA and the Small Business Administration have provided more than $103 million in direct assistance for thousands of homeowners, renters, and businesses who were affected.