‘Light of hope’ seen in Hawaii recovery efforts, Biden says ahead of Maui visit


(WASHINGTON) — The White House will be helping Hawaii residents recover from the deadly wildfires for “as long as it takes,” President Joe Biden said in a recorded video message aired on ABC News’ Good Morning America on Thursday.

“Already from the darkness and the smoke and the ash — we’ve seen the light of hope and strength,” he said.

He praised first responders who’ve worked around the clock, including volunteers bringing supplies in fishing boats and chefs — some of whose restaurants have been destroyed — cooking for displaced families who’ve lost everything.

Biden quoted one food bank worker, who said he’d seen “nothing but ‘aloha."”

“That’s Hawaii — that’s America,” Biden said. “And I want the people of Hawaii to know your country is with you as long as it takes. God bless those we’ve lost. God bless the people of Hawaii.”

The president and first lady Jill Biden are expected to travel to Maui on Monday to meet with first responders and survivors, the White House said in an announcement on Wednesday.

Deadly wildfires spread quickly through Maui last week, destroying much of the historic town of Lahaina and killing at least 111 people, local officials said an update on Wednesday. The fires have become the deadliest natural disaster in Hawaii’s history as a state.

The Bidens plan to meet with federal, state and local officials who are coordinating the government response, the White House said.

“The President continues to marshal a whole-of-government response to the deadly Maui fires, and he has committed to delivering everything that the people of Hawaii need from the federal government as they recover from this disaster,” the White House said in a statement on Wednesday.

Biden had on Tuesday pledged to visit Hawaii as soon as he could, saying he’d support the recovery for its duration.

“We will be there in Maui as long as it takes,” he said Tuesday. “As long as it takes. And I mean that sincerely.”

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