Biden to Visit Maui on Monday to View Wildfire Damage


President Biden will travel to the Hawaiian island of Maui on Monday to view the damage from raging wildfires that devastated much of a coastal town and killed more than 100 people, the White House announced on Wednesday.

Mr. Biden had signaled a day earlier that he would visit “as soon as we can,” and the White House statement formalized the timing. Jill Biden, the first lady, will accompany the president, who will meet with emergency workers, survivors, and federal, state and local officials.

“I remain committed to delivering everything the people of Hawai’i need as they recover from this disaster,” Mr. Biden wrote on X, the social media platform formerly known as Twitter.

The announcement came after Republicans criticized the president for not addressing the disaster for several days and distributed images of him relaxing over the weekend in Rehoboth Beach, Del. “Heartless Joe,” read the banner headline of The New York Post on Tuesday, before Mr. Biden said in a speech later in the day in Milwaukee that he wanted to visit but did not want to get in the way of response operations.

Former President Donald J. Trump, whose own response to disasters in Puerto Rico was widely criticized, took a shot at Mr. Biden on Monday. “It is a disgraceful thing that Joe Biden refuses to help or comment on the tragedy in Maui,” Mr. Trump said in a video posted online shortly before he was indicted in Georgia on racketeering and conspiracy charges for trying to overturn the 2020 election results.

White House officials dismissed the criticism, saying that Mr. Biden has been paying close attention to the situation in Hawaii and speaking with Gov. Josh Green, Senators Mazie K. Hirono and Brian Schatz. He was briefed at the White House on Wednesday by Deanne Criswell, the administrator of the Federal Emergency Management Agency, or FEMA, after she returned from Hawaii.

“As he always does, President Biden directed me to move quickly and push as many resources into the area as possible,” Ms. Criswell told reporters at the White House after her meeting. “The president, FEMA and the entire federal family will be there to support Hawaii as long as we are needed,” she added.

Ms. Criswell said the fires required a “really difficult search operation” that has challenged emergency efforts. Trained dogs searching for survivors have needed frequent rest because of the heat, she noted, and additional canine teams have been brought to the island.

The president’s aides said Governor Green had advised that next week would be a more opportune time for a visit because it would be less disruptive to search and recovery efforts. Mr. Biden plans to be in Lake Tahoe next week for vacation but will break away for the day trip to Maui.

White House officials made a point of citing the fires in Hawaii to promote the president’s efforts to combat climate change on the one-year anniversary of the passage of the Inflation Reduction Act, which included the largest government investment in clean energy programs.

“To stop these disasters from getting even worse, we have to cut the carbon pollution that is causing the climate crisis,” said John D. Podesta, a senior adviser to the president focused on clean energy.


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