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President Biden tours damage in Maui, promises support for rebuilding

President Biden walked the burned-out streets himself in Lahaina on Monday.
President Biden tours damage in Maui, promises support for rebuilding
Posted at 5:57 PM, Aug 21, 2023

President Joe Biden and first lady Jill Biden were in Hawaii Monday to tour the damage from the fires in Maui and meet with survivors.

The Bidens first met with Hawaii Gov. Josh Green and his wife Jaime Green, and with members of Hawaii's congressional delegation, while still on the tarmac after exiting Air Force One.

During the visit President Biden spoke with first responders who battled the flames, and with state officials about the ongoing response. 

The Bidens toured portions of the damaged region on foot, and from the air aboard Marine One.

When his motorcade toured through the rubble of the historic town of Lahaina, onlookers appeared to have a mixed response to the visit, according to the Associated Press. Some were enthusiastic, and some appeared to wave their middle fingers at the president's vehicles.

Later Monday afternoon President Biden gave remarks to remember the more than 100 victims, in what has become the deadliest wildfire in modern U.S. history.

President Biden delivered remarks from alongside the banyan tree in Lahaina, which became a symbol amid the catastrophe.

"Today it's burned, but it's still standing," President Biden said. "Trees survive for a reason. I believe it's a powerful, a very powerful symbol of what we can and will do to get through this crisis. For as long as it takes, we're going to be with you. The whole country will be with you."

"We're going to rebuild the way the people of Maui want to rebuild," President Biden said.

SEE MORE: Why it's important for presidents to visit after disaster strikes

There are more than 1,000 federal officials working to respond to the disaster, the White House said, with more than $8.5 million in aid distributed so far.

On Monday the White House announced Bob Fenton would head up emergency response in Hawaii for the Federal Emergency Management Agency.

Maui County Mayor Richard Bissen said 850 people were still listed as missing following the disaster. He said he hopes the rolls of the missing will dwindle as search efforts continue.

SEE MORE: Maui's wildfire spotlights Hawaii's federal support struggle

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