Monday, 14 August 2023

FEMA Boss Stresses Need For ‘Culturally Responsive’ Outreach In Fire-Stricken Maui

 FEMA Administrator Deanne Criswell expressed a desire for the government’s efforts to assist survivors of the fire disaster on Maui to be “culturally responsive.”

The official made the comment Monday while appearing remotely in a White House briefing with Press Secretary Karine Jeanne-Pierre to provide an on-the-ground update about the federal response and recovery efforts in Hawaii.

“We also want to make sure we are getting all of the appropriate information out to survivors,” Criswell said after explaining the administration’s “whole-of-government approach” to helping survivors.

“So we are working with our state and local partners to ensure that our outreach and our messaging is also culturally responsive and that we can get messages out to people so they know what is available to them,” she added.

Last week, a fire decimated the historic town of Lahaina in Maui, leading to search efforts in the hard-hit area during which the death toll has slowly risen toward the 100 mark. With possibly more than 2,000 buildings destroyed or damaged, officials have estimated it will cost billions of dollars to rebuild.

Cultural landmarks were among the many sites observed to be engulfed in the blaze, including the Waiola Church where Hawaiian monarchs had been buried, a historic Shin Buddhist temple called the Lahaina Hongwanji Mission, and the Lahaina Heritage Museum, according to ABC News.

And there is an “iconic” banyan tree on Front Street that was “deeply damaged,” Sen. Mazie Hirino (D-HI) said in a post to X. But, the senator added, the tree is “still standing” and after “speaking with the arborist working on the tree, I’m optimistic that it will bloom again — serving as a symbol of hope amid so much devastation.”

President Joe Biden approved a disaster declaration to unlock federal resources to assist with the recovery efforts in Maui. FEMA is working with state and local partners to provide aid to survivors.

“As residents of Hawai’i mourn the loss of life and devastation taking place across their beautiful home, we mourn with them. Like I’ve said, not only our prayers are with those impacted — but every asset we have will be available to them,” Biden said in a post to X on Monday.

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