October 23, 2023 | By Mahealani Richardson:
HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) – Maui’s recovery from the devastating wildfires destroyed Lahaina and a portion of Kula could last a decade, experts say.
That’s why a delegation of Hawaii lawmakers and nonprofit leaders is in Washington, D.C. this week — to advocate for more funding and remind people that the recovery has only just begin.
Over the next three days in Washington, the delegation is meeting with White House officials, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and the Economic Development Administration.
They’ll also sit down with Hawaii’s congressional delegation.
After high-profile visits to Maui from President Biden and several Washington officials weeks after the Maui disaster, the delegation wants to head to the nation’s capital themselves to ask for more financial support and to underscore the importance of sustained, long-term aid.
Councilmember Yuki Lei Sugimura says like the wildfire in Sonoma County, Calif., Maui’s recovery could take five to 10 years. “Our budget for the County of Maui is over $1 billion, but just this disaster alone, agencies are giving numbers of over a billion or two,” she said.
“So we can’t do it by ourselves.”
Chamber of Commerce Hawaii President and CEO Sherry Menor-McNamara says the group is in D.C. to put a face to the request for more support.
“The concern was really that the attention will redivert elsewhere and that’s why we are here to ensure that they continue to keep Maui at the top of their minds,” said Menor-McNamara.
President Biden has signed a $16 billion Federal Emergency Management Disaster Relief Fund into law. In correspondence with Hawaii’s congressional delegation, the group has identified several potential priorities for that funding when it comes to Maui recovery and rebuilding.
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