Hawaii Gov. Josh Green said Wednesday he invited President Biden and First Lady Jill Biden to visit Maui on Monday as the island struggles to continue its efforts to make the visit safe in what has been deemed the worst blaze in modern U.S. history.
“Relief professionals have indicated that this is a point when a majority of our search and recovery efforts should be nearly complete and a time when extra presence will not hamper disaster management efforts,” the Hawaii governor said.
Republicans criticized Biden for not having acted sooner.
Former President Donald Trump even went so far as to call Biden’s response “disgraceful” in a video on Monday.
Green was quick to fire back with a defense of Biden however, saying the president was actively supporting recovery efforts on the Hawaiian island.
“We’ve been in constant contact with the President and his team,” Green said in a statement. “Just six hours after submitting our official request, President Biden signed our major disaster declaration, allowing us to expeditiously mobilize with the full support of the federal government to aid our community. To date, we have received massive help from the FEMA, the U.S Small Business Administration, and virtually every other key federal partner.”
To date, the Maui fire death toll has risen to 106, according to island officials.
The island has reopened the Lahaina bypass and has instructed tourists out of the area, asking Hawaiians only to visit the West Maui area if they are part of the rescue effort or if they reside or work in the area.