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Biden leaves for Tahoe without visiting Hawaii as death toll climbs

 August 19, 2023

As the tragic aftermath of the Maui wildfires continues to unfold, President Joe Biden made plans to embark on a western vacation before addressing the devastation in Hawaii, as the Daily Mail reported.

Deadliest Wildfire in over a Century

Following fresh remarks on the destruction during a summit at Camp David, Biden announced his intention to head to Reno and then Lake Tahoe for a relaxing getaway.

The president's weekend of rest and recreation precedes his scheduled visit to Maui on Monday, according to the White House.

The announcement came as the death toll exceeded 100, making it the deadliest wildfire in over a century and raising new concerns about the response to the disaster.

The President's Remarks and Actions in the Wake of the Disaster

Following criticism for his silence on the issue, Biden has repeatedly referenced the tragedy. While at Camp David, he spoke about financial contributions from Japan and South Korea for wildfire relief and mentioned FEMA's preparation for Hurricane Hilary, soon expected to slam Southern California.

He further promised ongoing assistance to Maui on ABC News' Good Morning America, expressing the nation's support for recovery, rebuilding, and grieving.

The president pledged to be there "for as long as it takes," noting federal efforts to send emergency personnel, meals, and supplies to the affected areas. Around 2,200 buildings have been destroyed, and approximately 1,300 people remain missing.

Republican, like Rep. Jim Jordan (OH-04), have compared the president's delayed visit to a previous unfulfilled promise to visit East Palestine, Ohio, where a train derailment displaced hundreds of local residents.

Concerns, Criticisms, and Ongoing Efforts

Search crews continue to comb through the debris, using cadaver dogs to locate survivors.

Criticism has persisted over the president's silence on the wildfire during a recent weekend stay at his beach home in Delaware, when he replied, "no comment" when asked about the situation.

Amid the tragedy, legal matters concerning the president's son, Hunter Biden, have also been in the spotlight, possibly diverting attention from the national crisis.

Meanwhile, as President Biden enjoys his second summer vacation in Nevada, where he will focus on annual joint military exercises and countering aggression from China and North Korea, details of his Lake Tahoe activities remain undisclosed.

The extensive destruction in Hawaii continues to challenge rescue efforts. The estimated damage has reached $5.6 billion, and local residents are frustrated by the slow arrival of federal aid.

Efforts to contain the fire are ongoing, with 85% containment achieved for the fire that destroyed nearly every building in Lahaina. Another fire has been 60% contained.

The local community is rallying to support those affected, with the War Memorial Gymnasium in Wailuku serving as a shelter.

Celebrities like Oprah Winfrey have also contributed by delivering essential supplies, Hawaii News Now reported.

Investigations into the cause of the wildfires are underway, with dry summer conditions and winds from passing hurricanes cited as potential factors fueling the flames across Maui. The Hawaiian governor warns that the death toll is likely to keep rising as search efforts continue.