Some residents on Maui from Lahaina shredded President Joe Biden’s comments during his visit Monday to the island after deadly wildfires left a trail of destruction earlier in the month, with one resident labeling some of his language as “tone-deaf” and another one writing off the whole visit as a “multimillion-dollar photo-op” during their appearance Tuesday on Fox News’s “Fox & Friends First.”
Among some of the president’s comments under scrutiny, he made a comparison with the flames from a fire that started at his home in Delaware 15 years ago, retelling a story where he said the fire “destroyed a significant portion” of his house.
“I don’t want to compare difficulties, but we have a little sense, Jill and I, of what it was like to lose a home,” said Biden. “Years ago now, 15 years, I was in Washington doing ‘Meet the Press’…lightning struck at home on a little lake outside the home, not a lake, a big pond. It hit the wire and came up underneath our home into the …air condition ducts.”
However, an Associated Press report from 2004 said lightning struck the home, starting a “small fire that was contained to the kitchen.”
“I think it was a bit tone-deaf,” said Maui resident Amanda Cassidy of President Biden’s comments from Monday. “However, I can understand how he was trying to meet us somewhere and say, ‘I understand,’ unfortunately, that is nothing that compares to what happened to our community, our beautiful little town, and families of children that were lost and disabled and the elderly. I mean, a car and your kitchen is kind of just a little sad to hear…”
“I think people really want to see you show up for us and provide an eighth of what you’re giving to Ukraine. It’s outrageous. Lahaina is so hurt right now, and that was tone-deaf.”
Another Maui resident, Etan Krupnick, joined the “Fox & Friends First” on Tuesday along with Cassidy and criticized the president for visiting for a “photo-op” when the money could have been used better.
“The [community’s] anger is normal, you know, [it was a] multimillion-dollar photo op,” Krupnick told the co-host. “We could’ve used that money directly to Lahaina, to house more of the families for a longer stay because rebuilding their homes isn’t going to take three months… it’s going to be family and friends that are still lost, and we’re going to mourn them. And it’s just it’s a huge mess right now.”
Krupnick said the president should have expressed his feelings over the phone or FaceTimed instead of flying to Maui.
Maui resident: Highest priority should be fast-tracking permits, getting people’s homes rebuilt
To help the area recover, Krupnick said the highest priority should be rebuilding people’s homes by fast-tracking permits and employing architects so residents can return to some semblance of normalcy. He also mentioned federal funding as another critical element that needs to be addressed.
The search for missing residents after flames devastated the community continues. Maui County Mayor Richard Bissen said on Sunday that 850 names are on the list of missing people, and he noted the list initially contained about 2,000 and that more are expected to be located.
“We are both saddened and relieved about these numbers as we continue the recovery process,” said Bissen. “The number of identified will rise, and the number of missing may decrease.”