Officials in Hawaii are starting to feel the pressure from residents trying to pick up the pieces after a deadly blaze swept through Maui.
Over 2,200 structures were damaged or destroyed, and the historic city of Lahaina took the brunt of the blaze.
What has residents upset is that the emergency sirens failed to go off as the fire charged toward the city.
“Neither Maui nor HI-EMA activated warning sirens on Maui during the wildfire incident,” the agency said in a statement. “The sirens are used to alert the public to seek additional information; they do not necessarily indicate an evacuation.”
“There was no warning. There was absolutely none. Nobody came around. We didn’t see a fire truck or anybody,” said resident Lynn Robinson, who lost her home in the blaze.
Hawaii Emergency Services Administration (HI-EMA) did send out alerts via text, radio, and TV but many did not receive them in time and didn’t know the fire was near until they heard explosions.
It is not totally clear why the sirens didn’t go off. However, Governor Jos Green indicated that much of the warning equipment was “destroyed very rapidly” by the fire filed by hurricane-force winds.
“The Department of the Attorney General shares the grief felt by all in Hawaiʻi, and our hearts go out to everyone affected by this tragedy,” Attorney General Anne Lopez said Friday. “My Department is committed to understanding the decisions that were made before and during the wildfires and to sharing with the public the results of this review. As we continue to support all aspects of the ongoing relief effort, now is the time to begin this process of understanding.”
Meanwhile, President Joe Biden headed off to the beach as the devastation unfolded in Hawaii.
Justin Sink, White House correspondent for Bloomberg News, reported that all Joe had to say was “no comment” when asked about the devastation.
After a couple hours on the Rehoboth beach, @potus was asked about the rising death toll in Hawaii
“No comment,” he said before heading home pic.twitter.com/Y0UmXirju9
— Justin Sink (@justinsink) August 13, 2023