President Joe Biden used an anecdote from his own experience with a kitchen fire 19 years ago to connect with the victims of the devastating fires in Lahaina, Maui, saying he “has a little sense” for their suffering.
On Monday, Biden visited the Lahaina Civic Center to meet with locals and witness how the community is responding to the damage from the fires.
He shared a story with the audience about an incident that took place 19 years ago, when a lightning strike hit his Delaware home, causing a small fire.
“To make a long story short, I almost lost my wife, my ’67 Corvette, and my cat,” Biden said.
The fire was “contained to the kitchen” and only took 20 minutes for firefighters to get it under control, according to the Associated Press.
The devastation in Lahaina is far more severe. Out of the 900 believed to have been affected, 115 have been confirmed dead. Hawaii Gov. Josh Green noted that many of the casualties are thought to have been children.
Using a series of high-tech tools and numerous skilled volunteers, only 15 percent of Lahaina remains to be searched, according to Green.
Biden praised the fire department for their response to the blaze in his own home, noting that firefighters ran into the flames to save his wife and his family. He said that it explained how he and Jill Biden have a little sense of what it’s like to lose a house.
“No one takes the joy and the pleasure out of life like natural disasters,” he said.
Biden offered his condolences during Monday’s visit and thanked Hawaii for its response efforts. He also praised the local volunteers who are working hard to provide assistance to those affected.
The President concluded his remarks by encouraging the victims to remain strong and citing his own resilient spirit following the destruction of his home.
“No matter how difficult things look of the world turns inside out, you keep going,” he said. “It doesn’t end. You have got to be tougher than the fire. That’s what we did, and that’s what I believe you will do, here in Lahaina.”
Biden jokes about how hot the ground is while touring wildfire damage in Maui pic.twitter.com/lY18UQ36fP
— Greg Price (@greg_price11) August 21, 2023