Thu, Aug 10, 2023 4:11 PM
By Kim Jarrett, The Center Square
Hawaiian officials pledge to rebuild parts of Maui devastated by a fire, but Gov. Josh Green said Thursday it could take billions to rebuild.
The fire has killed at least 53 people, and an unknown number of people are still missing, said Maui County Police Chief John Pelletier.
Hundreds of homes and buildings were destroyed in Lahaina, but officials do not have an exact count. Much of the western part of the island does not have power or internet service, officials said.
"In perspective, it's going to take many years to rebuild Lahaina," Green said. "When you see the full extent of the destruction of Lahaina, it will shock you."
President Joe Biden approved a federal disaster declaration for the area within six hours of his request, Green said. This clears the way for affected residents to receive federal funding for temporary housing and other expenses.
The fires began Tuesday night and quickly spread due to winds from Hurricane Dora. Some of the gusts were up to 60 miles per hour, and some were reported up to 80 miles per hour, said Maui County Fire Chief Brad Ventura in a news conference Thursday afternoon.
"None of the fires are 100% contained right now," Ventura said. "With the current weather pattern we are facing, we still have the potential for rapid fire behavior."
Green issued a fourth emergency proclamation Thursday, discouraging non-essential travel to the island as emergency personnel work to recover from the fire. The emergency proclamation runs through August 31.
"Right now, we have a scar on the face of Maui that will be here for a very long time," Pelletier said. "We know that scars heal in time, but they always remain."