Number of Missing in Maui Expected to Drop Below 100

Caden Pearson
By Caden Pearson
September 2, 2023US News
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Number of Missing in Maui Expected to Drop Below 100
Hawaii Governor Josh Green (C) delivers remarks as US President Joe Biden listens during a visit to an area devastated by wildfires in Lahaina, Hawaii on Aug. 21, 2023. (Mandel Ngan/AFP via Getty Images)

Hawaii Gov. Josh Green said Thursday that the number of individuals reported as missing in the devastating wildfire on Maui may drop from nearly 400 to less than 100.

“We’re still seeing the number of unaccounted-for individuals drop,” Mr. Green said Thursday in a video shared on X, formerly known as Twitter.

“We’re going to get a big update tomorrow. Pending that update, we think the number has dropped down into the double digits, so thank God.”

The wildfire, which swiftly engulfed Lahaina on Aug. 8, claimed the lives of at least 115 individuals, marking it as the deadliest wildfire witnessed in the United States in a century.

Initially, over 1,000 people were classified as unaccounted for, with concerned family members, friends, or acquaintances reporting them as missing.

Authorities subsequently managed to narrow down the list to 388 names that were genuinely deemed missing. Upon the publication of these names, over 200 people promptly stepped forward with valuable information regarding the individuals listed.

In his video update on Friday, Mr. Green didn’t mention the number of individuals who are still missing. However, his whiteboard of information indicated that a confirmed figure was still pending. The board displayed an expected estimate of 50 people unaccounted for alongside the words “pending 9/1/23.”

NTD Photo
Burned cars and homes are seen a neighborhood that was destroyed by a wildfire in Lahaina, Hawaii, are seen in an aerial view on Aug. 17, 2023. (Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)

Mr. Green said in his Friday update that FEMA had received over 12,000 applications for help. He said the Red Cross has sent 472 officials to help, as well as hundreds of volunteers from across the United States.

There are 5,016 people being housed in hotel rooms and another 1,100 people being housed in Airbnb accommodations as they await the cleanup of toxic debris left behind by the fire and the commencement of the rebuilding process.

“This will be the process where we get people into Airbnb’s for up to 18 months,” Mr. Green said in the video. “That’s going to be our plan.”

The wildfire’s destructive path resulted in the loss of approximately 1,800 to 1,900 homes.

Amid the recovery efforts, Mr. Green has said that his administration will investigate instances of unsolicited offers for property in Lahaina. Such offers contravene a recent emergency order designed to halt the transfer of land in the historic coastal enclave to external buyers signed by the governor on Aug. 19.

“We’ve seen that in a lot of different places in our country and in our world where people have lost everything but their land and someone swoops in and buys properties for pennies on the dollar,” Mr. Green said. “We want to keep this land in the hands of local people, and we want to give them at least a chance to decide whether they’d like to build back.”

The worry was that these residents might be compelled to sell, potentially leaving Lahaina, Maui, or even the state altogether, thereby carrying away their unique cultural heritage and traditions. This trend would further contribute to the ongoing outmigration of Hawaii’s residents to more affordable regions.

Lahaina, which was home to 12,000 residents, had a significant population engaged in the hospitality sector, working in hotels and restaurants in the nearby Kaanapali and Lahaina areas.

Mr. Green, a Democrat, had initially proposed a moratorium on land sales in Lahaina to prevent displacement. However, he recognized that implementing a blanket ban “may not be doable.”

Hawaii will also supplement humanitarian funds raised by celebrities with TANF funds and business grants.

“I intend to authorize $100 million [of TANF funds] as soon as possible,” Mr. Green said. “And business grants. We’re looking at a $30 million grant program to give people, to sustain their economic survival for the good of all the people of Maui.”

From The Epoch Times

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