President Joe Biden said Tuesday he will travel to Hawaii as soon as possible to assess recovery efforts from the deadliest US wildfires in more than a century.
“An entire city destroyed. Generations of Native Hawaiian history turned to ruins,” Biden said in Milwaukee after touring Ingeteam, a clean energy company that manufactures onshore wind turbine generators.
Biden’s comments were his first about the wildfires since the number of fatalities was surpassed over the weekend. that of a fire in California in 2018.
Now at 99, the death toll could double or even triple, Hawaii Governor Josh Green said Monday.
Some Republicans, including former President Donald Trump, had criticized Biden for not publicly addressing the growing tragedy over the weekend, following his initial remarks last week.
Before making his scheduled remarks on his economic policies on Tuesday, Biden spoke about the difficult work being done as bodies continue to be recovered on Maui.
“The whole area that they have to plow they can’t do right now because they don’t know how many bodies there are,” he said. “They don’t know what’s left.”
Biden said he and first lady Jill Biden will travel to Hawaii “as soon as possible” without interfering with recovery efforts to ensure the state has everything it needs.
More than a dozen federal agencies and departments are involved in the response. Nearly 500 federal employees have been sent to Maui to help residents.
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This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Biden travels to Hawaii ASAP after historic wildfires