Governor Josh Green of Hawaii has authorized a review of the emergency response to the devastating fires that destroyed the town of Lahaina. The efforts to combat the fires were further complicated by unusually powerful winds and fast-moving flames. When questioned about the lack of audible sirens and warnings, Governor Green explained that emergency responders were focused on other fires at the time of the reignition in Lahaina. The flames destroyed telecommunications infrastructure, making it difficult to convey the intensity of the new fire. Additionally, helicopters were unable to assist in firefighting due to high winds reaching up to 80 miles per hour. Governor Green emphasized that these challenges should not be seen as excuses, but rather as factors that contributed to a very fluid situation across the island.
Governor Green also highlighted the toll of climate change and the unique challenges faced by Hawaii due to its distance from the mainland. He expressed a commitment to finding ways to better protect the people in the future, particularly considering the threat posed by global warming. The federal government has pledged assistance to the state, with President Biden personally calling Governor Green and Senator Brian Schatz speaking with Secretary of Defense Lloyd J. Austin III. However, the recovery process is still ongoing, with fires still burning and vital infrastructure such as electricity and fiber optic connectivity yet to be restored. Senator Schatz emphasized the need for operational preparedness for recovery, as the disaster is still ongoing. He also stated that Congress would need to approve an emergency aid package to effectively support the state’s recovery.
Senator Schatz described the situation in Lahaina as a full rebuild. The town, which had a population of roughly 12,000 people, has been completely flattened by the fires. He emphasized the comprehensive support that would be necessary for the recovery process, stating that there is not a single thing that won’t be needed.
In conclusion, Governor Green and Senator Schatz have acknowledged the challenges faced during the emergency response to the fires in Lahaina. They recognize the impact of climate change and the unique circumstances of Hawaii’s geographical location. The recovery process is still ongoing, and the support of the federal government, as well as the approval of an emergency aid package by Congress, will be crucial in rebuilding the town of Lahaina and assisting those affected by the devastating fires.