Biden issues disaster declaration after deadly Hawaiian wildfires

Speaking at an event in Salt Lake City, President Biden announced that he approved a major disaster declaration for Hawaii after wildfires there killed at least 36 people. Biden pledged help from the federal government, saying “every asset we have will be available” to the people of the state.

Video Transcript

JOE BIDEN: And, look, before I begin, I want to say a word about the devastating wildfires that have claimed at least 36 lives in Maui and Hawaii. I-- we have just approved a major disaster declaration for Hawaii, which will get aid into the hands of the people desperately needing help now. They've lost-- anyone who has lost a loved one, whose home has been damaged or destroyed, is going to get help immediately. And I've directed that we assert support to these brave firefighters and first responders and emergency personnel working around the clock there risking their lives.

I just got off the phone before I got here for a long conversation with Governor Josh Green this morning and let him know I'm going to make sure the state has everything it needs from the federal government to recover. FEMA Administrator Criswell will be in Miami tomorrow-- in Maui tomorrow. And I've directed her to streamline any process which-- with requests for help and survivors registered for immediate federal assistance without delay.

FEMA is surging disaster assistance personnel on the island, and they're going to help survivors get access to federal assistance. And anybody who wants to know out there where to go, if this is televised, that they can go to,, to learn if you're eligible for assistance. And I've ordered all available federal assets on the island, including the US Coast Guard, the Navy Third Fleet, and the US Army, to assist local emergency response crews, along with the Hawaiian National Guard.

We're working as quickly as possible to fight these fires and evacuate residents and tourists. In the meantime, our prayers are with the people of Hawaii, but not just our prayers. Every asset we have will be available to them. And we've seen-- they've seen their homes, their businesses destroyed, and some have lost loved ones. And it's not over yet.