“My heart, my prayers and my focus are on the victims of the Maui wildfires and their families,” Mr. Biden said in a written statement released by the White House on Sunday. “I know how profoundly loss can impact a family and a community and I know nothing can replace the loss of life. I will do everything in my power to help Maui recover and rebuild from this tragedy.”
He added that the federal government would respect sacred lands, cultures and traditions in its recovery efforts. “Jill and I are eager to meet with the brave first responders in Lahaina tomorrow, to spend time with families and community members, and witness firsthand what will be required for the community to recover,” he said. “We will be here as long as it takes for Maui.”
As of Saturday, more than 1,000 federal workers were on the ground in Maui, according to the White House, including more than 450 search and rescue personnel. FEMA has provided more than 50,000 meals, 75,000 liters of water, 5,000 cots and 10,000 blankets as well as $7 million in short-term aid to nearly 2,200 households, a down payment on what will be a far more extensive investment.
Mr. Biden arrived at Lake Tahoe on Friday evening and has made no public appearances other than participating in Mass at a local church Saturday evening. He is staying on the Nevada side of the lake, at a house owned by Tom Steyer, the billionaire climate investor who lost the Democratic presidential nomination to Mr. Biden in 2020. White House officials said the president is renting the house for “fair market value” but did not disclose details.
Staying with him are Dr. Biden and several family members, including Hunter Biden, just a week after a special counsel was appointed to investigate the president’s son.