LAHAINA: Hawaii officials on Wednesday (Aug 16) reopened a highway into West Maui to all motorists for the first time since last week’s deadly wildfire, but the devastated town of Lahaina remained closed as the painstaking search for hundreds of missing dragged on.
The highway, which bypasses the “destruction zone” on the northwestern shore of the island, was previously closed to all but residents of the surrounding area, first responders and people who work in local businesses.
Except for a brief relaxation earlier this week, authorities have barred entry into the zone to allow the slow process of finding and identifying victims to proceed as quickly as possible.
In Washington, the White House said President Joe Biden and first lady Jill Biden would travel to Hawaii next week to survey the destruction, meet with first responders and survivors, and confer with officials over relief efforts.
“I remain committed to delivering everything the people of Hawaii need as they recover from this disaster,” Biden said in a post on the social media platform X, previously known as Twitter.
On Wednesday Biden approved Hawaii’s request that the federal government to reimburse the full cost of 30 days of the emergency work expected to be carried out over the next four months, said Deanne Criswell, head of the US Federal Emergency Management Administration, during a news briefing at the White House.
Criswell, who visited Maui last week, said the community was going through an “amazingly traumatic event”, and said Biden “is going to be able to bring hope” during his visit next week.