(NewsNation) — More than 1,000 federal personnel, including 450 search and rescue teams, are assisting with wildfire relief efforts on the ground in Maui, Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) officials said in a press conference Saturday.
FEMA’s Disaster Survivor Assistance teams are working to distribute meals and water, and helping survivors register for assistance.
Survivors need to register with FEMA to be eligible for the payout and other assistance. As of Wednesday, roughly 4,400 Hawaii wildfire survivors had applied for so-called critical need assistance, according to Jeremy M. Edwards, press secretary for FEMA.
So far, the Biden administration has approved nearly $7 million in assistance to nearly 2,200 households.
President Joe Biden and First Lady Jill Biden plan to visit Maui on Monday, Aug. 21, FEMA said at the Saturday press conference. The trip details are still being finalized so as not to disrupt relief operations.
“What he’s going to see is the progress that we have made since he swiftly authorized the state’s major disaster declaration last week. He’s also going to see all of the dedicated first responders and he’s going to hear about some really amazing and heroic efforts that they did as they ran towards the fire and towards danger to help keep their community safe,” FEMA administrator Deanne Criswell said.
As of Saturday, officials have searched about 60% of the impacted area on Maui, Criswell said at the press conference, adding that debris removal will be the next phase of working to rebuild the island.
“We are going to continue to support Maui County in the state of Hawaii with planning for debris removal, which will be the next phase of this as we transition into long-term recovery. But mostly, we will work with the people of Lahaina in what they want to do to rebuild”
Along with FEMA, dozens of federal departments and agencies, including the Department of Homeland Security, Coast Guard, Department of Defense through the Navy and Army, the Department of Health and Human Services, the Small Business Administration (SBA), the Environmental Protection Agency and more are working with state and local partners on the ground to assess ongoing needs and provide resources and personnel to support response efforts.