President Joe Biden took heat when he was spotted in the midst of the devastating wildfires on Maui, Hawaii at the beach in Delaware, riding his bicycle and telling reporters he was “looking at” making a trip there.
White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre addressed the criticism, announcing the President and First Lady Jill Biden will travel to Maui on Monday to meet with first responders, survivors and other authorities.
CNN’s Sara Sidner had an intense exchange with the press secretary Thursday after she encouraged victims of the fires to use the Federal Emergency Management Agency’s (FEMA) website and telephone line.
“Our job and FEMA, the administrator has spoken to this, and unfortunately she and her team have had to deal with many disasters over the past two years, as we’re dealing with extreme weather. They are on the ground, they are doing everything that they can,” Jean-Pierre said, noting that there has already been over $2.3 million in federal aid thus far.
However, Sidner had a different perspective, demanding to know what else the agency could do to better assist those on the ground who are saying they aren’t getting enough help.
“What can FEMA do better to help alleviate some of these issues for people who are saying we are not getting the help we need?” Sidner asked.
“Obviously this is a dynamic situation, as you’ve heard directly from the administrator. We’re working with the cell companies to try to make sure that communication happens,” Jean-Pierre replied.
More than 100 people are dead following the wildfires, with searches ongoing throughout the Lahaina region of Maui for survivors, and that number is expected to climb.
The internet has been abuzz since the news began circulating, with some defending the president’s actions while others continued to condemn him.
It’s clear that the devastation on the island would have elicited a response from the president as well as federal support long before the news became public knowledge, and people have demanded that the necessary help be expedited in order to minimize suffering and maximize lives saved.
The horrific wildfires on Maui are a reminder of how vulnerable our country’s geography is to natural disasters. With climate change taking its toll on the environment, stamina must be increased within the nation’s emergency and disaster management to ensure the safety of Americans.