Hawaiians voice concerns about underreporting of Maui wildfire deaths

Hawaiians voice concerns about underreporting of Maui wildfire deathsHawaiians voice concerns about underreporting of Maui wildfire deaths
Facebook/Javier Cantellops
As the death toll of Maui’s wildfires have climbed to at least 99 people, Hawaiians are voicing their concerns regarding the alleged underreporting of deaths. 
The alleged underreporting: In a viral TikTok video, a woman who has been working to gather supplies for the victims of the wildfires details the harrowing tragedy that has left towns in destroyed states. The woman notes that shelters have been unorganized and some residents have resorted to stealing supplies from others’ houses. She encourages viewers to donate or write to congress in order to help the people of Hawaii. 
“It’s not correct. They’re not reporting it correctly,” she says of the reported number of deaths. “There’s hundreds. At least 600, if not thousands of people who are dead in the streets and floating in the ocean. There are over 3,000 homes that have been burned to the ground. No news is showing how bad [the situation] really is.”
Authorities’ explanation: As of Monday, authorities in Hawaii — who have requested patience — reported that the number of confirmed deaths had risen to 99. However, Gov. Josh Green explained that the number could rise over the next 10 days as only a quarter of the affected areas have been searched. Green said it is unclear how many people are still unaccounted for due to communication gaps. 
“It is a tragedy beyond tragedies,” Green said, according to CNN. “A lot of people had to run and left all they had behind. They don’t have their phones – the phones are incinerated.”
Expanding search teams: According to Maui Police Chief John Pelletier, the names of the dead whose families have been notified will be released starting Tuesday. He hopes that 85% to 90% of the affected areas will have been searched by the weekend.
“We started with one dog. We are at 20. We can only move as fast as we can, but we got the right amount of workers and teams doing it,” Pelletier said, noting that search teams are expanding through wiped-out neighborhoods. 
Pelletier also urged those with missing family members to contact authorities and provide DNA samples in order to help in the body identification process. 
Biden’s response criticized: President Joe Biden is being criticized for not publicly addressing the tragedy as the death toll rises. While he was on vacation over the weekend, Biden reportedly declined to answer a reporter’s question about the death count. However, White House Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre assured the public that Biden will be addressing the devastation this week when he travels to Milwaukee for the anniversary of the Inflation Reduction Act’s signing.
Last week, Biden signed a disaster declaration pledging significant federal resources toward Maui’s recovery to ensure “anyone who’s lost a loved one, whose home has been damaged or destroyed, is going to get help immediately.”
Jean-Pierre also noted that the president has been in touch with Green, the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) administrator and Sen. Mazie Hirono to mobilize a comprehensive federal response. According to the White House, there are currently more than 300 FEMA workers on the ground, and the ministry is offering temporary shelter in hotels, motels and Airbnb units. The government is also working with community groups to provide support for all residents regardless of language or other barriers.
Wildfires status: The Lahaina wildfire is reportedly 85% contained and the Upcountry fire is 60% contained as of Sunday afternoon. Green said that the losses approach $6 billion as more than 2,200 structures have been destroyed or damaged by the fires, which are the deadliest in the nation in more than a century, according to the National Fire Protection Association.
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