Biden pledges $95 million to help Maui recover from wildfires

The funds will come from the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law.

August 30, 2023, 5:08 PM

President Joe Biden has announced that $95 million from the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law will be given to Hawaii to aid in Maui’s rebuilding efforts following the deadly, devastating wildfires.

“We're not only building back but we’re going to build back a stronger and more resilient future which means we need to withstand any challenge coming our way in rebuilding the way Maui wants to rebuild,” Biden said during a Wednesday press conference.

A general view shows the aftermath of a wildfire in Lahaina, Hawaii, Aug. 21, 2023.
Jae C. Hong/AP, FILE

On Aug. 8, several fires spread rapidly across the island due to dry conditions and high winds. Maui officials say downed power lines were likely behind the blazes. At least 115 people have been declared dead and thousands of structures have been destroyed.

As the land search for victims comes to an end, Maui and federal officials say the effort has moved toward hazardous waste removal and cleanup from the destroyed five-square-mile Lahaina region so people can return and rebuild in the town safely.

Biden said the money will go toward putting electrical wires underground where possible, using stronger poles to hold up electrical wires, clearing brush and potential kindling from around above-ground wires.

He also said funding will ensure that electricity can reach homes, hospitals and water stations even during storms or intense weather.

A view of burned debris after wildfires devastated the historic town of Lahaina, Maui, Hawaii, Aug. 10, 2023.
Handout/via Reuters, FILE

Biden also hopes to introduce technology used in other parts of the country that can track where wires have gone down to improve emergency response time and to speed up repairs.

“All this will help Maui and the state of Hawaii better withstand future disasters because it’s not going away,” said Biden, referring to such disasters.

Biden visited the island on Aug. 21 to survey the destruction.