Biden and Harris Cancel Hawaii Trip Amid Devastating Wildfires

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Unsurprisingly, President Joe Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris will not travel to Maui while the island is suffering from devastating wildfires. They “don’t wish to distract” the ongoing rescue efforts.

Harris said to reporters on Friday before boarding Air Force Two to Chicago. C-SPAN reported that Harris spoke to reporters just prior to boarding the plane.

“We’re coordinating federal resources so that they can quickly get to the area to help with the recovery work but also to provide support to the people on the ground.” Harris said, “It is tragic.” Harris said she and Biden were “deeply worried” about the wildfires which have claimed the lives of 55 individuals.

CNN reported that Biden declared a federal catastrophe for the island on Thursday. Federal efforts are already underway.

“We are working quickly to extinguish the fires and evacuate tourists and residents.” Biden told CNN, “We are praying for the people of Hawaii but we will not stop there. We will make every effort to help them.”

KTVU Fox 2 reported on search and rescue efforts that are ongoing on the island. Officials estimate that there are at least 1,000 missing people. The report noted that the official estimates were not conclusive, as it is “impossible to determine” the exact number of missing people on Maui due to communication problems.

Fox 2 highlighted the situation of Nikki White. She was searching for her 65-year-old Air Force veteran father T.K. who lived on the island.

White explained, “He said he could not get to the places where we told him to go due to the fire. Structures were also down.” Then, the communication just stopped. “No one in our family heard from him.”

Lauren Henrie is a consultant in communications for Maui Rescue Mission. She told CNN that communication issues on the island are hindering rescue efforts.

“As a local non-profit, we are not even able to access anything west from Maalaea. Henrie stated that West Maui was completely cut off from power and communication.” “We’re looking at years and years of recovery.”

According to the New York Post, while Biden and Harris opted to skip a trip to the island, Oprah was spotted volunteering at a shelter for the homeless.

Winfrey said to the BBC that it was “a little overwhelming.” “But I am so happy to have so many supporters, you know.” “People are doing their best and bringing whatever they can.”