Maui wildfires updates: President Biden, first lady get firsthand look at damage

The fires burned thousands of homes and commercial buildings to the ground.

The deadly wildfires that erupted on the Hawaiian island of Maui on Aug. 8 have become the deadliest natural disaster in state history, officials said.

The blazes spread rapidly due to very dry conditions stemming from a drought combined with powerful winds. Much of the historic town of Lahaina has been "destroyed," officials said, and the inferno has burned thousands of residential and commercial buildings to the ground.

Maui Strong: Charities to directly support wildfire relief efforts

On Thursday, "Good Morning America" and ABC News organized efforts to help viewers get involved in relief efforts for survivors of the Maui fires.

How to help:

-- Maui Strong Fund

-- Council for Native Hawaiian Advancement

-- University of Hawai'i Foundation

-- Kokua Restaurant & Hospitality Fund for Maui

-- American Red Cross/ABC

-ABC News’ Kelly McCarthy

What we know about the victims

Over 100 people have died from the devastating wildfires on Maui. Officials have warned that the death toll is expected to rise as they work to contain the active blazes and assess the damage.

Click here to read what we know about some of the victims.

Death toll rises to 115

The death toll from the wildfires has risen to 115 people, Maui County and the Maui Police Department said Monday.

Biden: 'We're going to rebuild the way the people of Maui want it to be rebuilt'

President Joe Biden spoke with reporters after he and the first lady toured the damage of the wildfires with Gov. Josh Green and other Hawaii elected officials.

Biden, who spoke near a historic banyan tree that was not burned, acknowledged the damage was devastating but said the strength of residents and state and local leaders would help the community persevere.

"The tree survived for a reason. I believe it's a powerful, a very powerful symbol of what we can and will do to get through this crisis," he said.

The president reflected on his own loss when his first wife Neilia and 13-month-old daughter Naomi were killed in a car crash in 1972 and said he knows the pain of what many residents, especially ones who are still searching for their loved ones, are going through.

Biden said there are over 450 search-and-rescue experts working around the clock to help find people.

"The difference between knowing somebody's gone and worrying whether they're available to come back are two different things," he said.

Biden acknowledged the long road ahead but reiterated that the federal government will be on the island "for as long as it takes" to help them recover and rebuild.

He emphasized that the federal government "will be respectful of the sacred grounds [and] the traditions."

"We're going to rebuild the way that people of Maui want to build, but you know, it's gonna be hard," he said.

Bidens land in Maui, begin tour of devastated areas

President Joe Biden and first lady Dr. Jill Biden arrived in Maui around 11:20 a.m. local time for their visit to the devastated island.

Biden was greeted by Hawaii Gov. Josh Green at the bottom of Air Force One. Green shook the president’s hand before the two hugged.

The first lady also hugged Green and his wife Jaime.

Sens. Brian Schatz and Mazie Hirono and Rep. Jill Tokuda also greeted the Bidens.

The president and first lady took an aerial tour aboard Marine One an aerial tour of the impacted areas with the governor, senators, Tokuda and Federal Emergency Management Agency administrator Deanne Criswell.

The Bidens and the entourage then took a tour on foot.

-ABC News' Justin Gomez

Biden's visit will be 'an emotional day for everyone': White House

President Joe Biden and the first lady's visit to Maui later on Monday will be "an emotional day for everyone," White House principal deputy press secretary Olivia Dalton told reporters.

The president will "meet with parents who've lost children, and children who lost parents, and first responders who saved other's homes while their own burned to the ground," Dalton said.

Over $8.5 million has been distributed to Maui residents, including $3.6 million for direct rental assistance, FEMA Administrator Deanne Criswell said.

Eight-thousand families have registered for assistance, she said.

Biden on Monday is expected to announce Bob Fenton, the Region 9 administrator of the Federal Emergency Management Agency, as the chief federal response coordinator to oversee Maui's long-term coordinated federal recovery effort.

Criswell said Fenton will "provide that level of oversight and coordination to make sure all the federal departments and agencies are bringing all the resources that they can to help this community rebuild and recover."

-ABC News' Justin Gomez

3,000 pets missing from Lahaina

Katie Shannon of the Maui Humane Society estimates that 3,000 pets are missing from wildfire-ravaged Lahaina.

So far, the Maui Humane Society has received 52 injured animals, including some suffering from smoke inhalation and some with burns, Shannon told ABC News.

"We have also seen severe burns -- cats that look, I don't think that their owner may even know that it is their cat because they look so burnt. Their ears are burnt, their faces are burnt. It's just incredibly severe," Shannon said.

The Maui Humane Society is not only sending food and supplies to the hardest-hit areas, but is also trying to reunite owners with their pets. A dog named Roman was separated from his pet sitter during the fire when the sitter jumped into the ocean and Roman refused to follow. Roman, who was missing for a couple days, was found by a good Samaritan, taken to the humane society and, thanks to his microchip, was reunited with his owners.

"That is our goal -- to reunite every pet and owner, and also to provide the lifesaving care that these pets need," Shannon said.

The Maui Humane Society is sending many of the animals it had on site before the fires to the mainland to make room for the animals coming in from the Lahaina area.

-ABC News' Will Carr and Timmy Truong