WASHINGTON — President Joe Biden and first lady Jill Biden will travel to Hawaii on Monday to survey damage from the deadly wildfires in Maui, the White House announced on Wednesday.
“The President and First Lady will travel to Maui on Monday, August 21 to meet with first responders, survivors, as well as federal, state, and local officials, in the wake of deadly wildfires on the island,” the White House said.
The news comes less than 24 hours after Biden said he and his wife were planning to visit the state “as soon as we can”.
“My wife Jill and I are going to travel to Hawaii as soon as we can, that’s what I’ve been talking to the governor about,” he said during remarks in Milwaukee. “I don’t want to get in the way – I’ve been to too many disaster areas, but I want to go and make sure we got everything they need. I want to be sure we don’t disrupt the ongoing recovery efforts.”
The remarks were Biden’s first public comments about the disaster since last Thursday, which saw his critics take aim for the long period of silence.
Biden’s aides have pushed back on the criticism by pointing out the President’s communication with FEMA leadership, Hawaii’s congressional delegation and its governor as proof of his engagement on the matter.
“We are taking this incredibly seriously,” White House press secretary Karine Jean Pierre said on CNN Tuesday. “The president has mentioned, you heard him publicly say that the first lady and himself are going to be going to Hawaii when we know they are not being disruptive.”
The President also announced federal aid to Hawaii, including FEMA’s approvals for 50,000 meals, 75,000 liters of water, and 10,000 blankets.
“You always hear this phrase, and I’ve been to so many disasters in my career, it’s almost hollow. Our prayers, our thoughts, and prayers are with the people of Hawaii,” Biden said Tuesday. “And not just our prayers. Every asset, every asset they need will be there for them.”