The devastating wildfire in Hawaii has claimed the lives of over 100 people, making it the deadliest U.S. wildfire in over a century. President Biden has announced that he will be visiting the area “soon” to offer his support and condolences, along with thoughts and prayers. However, some critics are questioning the effectiveness of the authorities’ response to the catastrophe and their level of preparedness. As the death toll continues to rise, Governor Josh Green warns that it could reach two or three times its current level.
While the county has identified a few victims, they are still in the process of notifying their families before releasing their names. The daunting task of searching for and identifying victims is ongoing, and patience will be crucial. The arrival of a portable morgue unit, equipped with supplies and equipment for victim identification, is a step towards providing closure to the affected families.
Residents who have been displaced by the wildfire are eager to return to their homes and assess the damage. However, bans have been put in place to ensure their safety, citing unstable buildings and potential airborne toxins in the area. Frustration is mounting among the residents as a police placard system, intended to allow them back into Lahaina, was quickly suspended after an hour due to miscommunication.
Questions are being raised about the authorities’ preparedness and response to the wildfire. Reports indicate that fire hydrants ran dry and warning systems failed to activate during the early stages of the fire. In fact, a class-action lawsuit has been filed against Hawaiian Electric, accusing the company of not shutting off its power lines to minimize the risk of fire.
It is imperative that a thorough investigation is conducted to understand the failures in response and preparedness, and to prevent such tragic events from occurring in the future. The affected families deserve answers and accountability. President Biden’s visit to the devastated area will hopefully bring much-needed support and assistance, but actions speak louder than words. The affected community needs tangible solutions and effective measures to prevent a similar disaster from happening again.