Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) Director Deanne Criswell suggested a “disconnect” between statements from the administration and residents of Maui was due to trauma suffered by the survivors of a wildfire.
Video posted on social media showed people fleeing into the ocean to escape the fire, which destroyed many cultural artifacts in the city that served as the capital of the Kingdom of Hawaii.
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“We keep interviewing survivor after survivor who says – they didn’t see any government personnel or assistance for days, or they still haven’t,” a reporter asked Criswell during a Wednesday White House press briefing. “How do you explain the disconnect between what they’re saying and what you’re saying?”
“I think you need to understand that this community is going through an amazingly traumatic event,” Criswell said. “I can tell you that we have personnel that are on the ground year-round and embedded in with the states.”
A state government spokesman told NBC Today Monday that National Guard and FEMA personnel had only completed 3% of the search for victims of the blaze, which was fueled by strong winds.
“We have been on the ground since day one,” Criswell said during a Monday briefing. “We have an office here on Oahu, that is staffed with personnel and integration members that work side by side with the state of Hawaii each and every day, so we were able to quickly integrate in with the governor’s team, as these fires started to rise.”
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