Office of the Governor – News Release – Governor Green Outlines Support for Lahaina Survivors and Businesses

Posted on Sep 8, 2023 in Latest Department News, Newsroom, Office of the Governor Press Releases

HONOLULU  ̶  On the one-month anniversary of the Maui wildfires that devastated Lahaina Town, Governor Josh Green, M.D., addressed the people of Hawaiʻi on the current status of the recovery.

Governor Green thanked the entire West Maui community for its courage, patience, and commitment to supporting survivors and each other. He also thanked federal partners, emergency responders, the congressional delegation, President Biden and the many donors from around the world for their generous support to our devastated communities.

As of September 8, more than 7,500 survivors who were displaced are now relocated from shelters to 29 hotels and hundreds of Airbnbs through the efforts of the American Red Cross, Hawaiʻi Emergency Management Agency, and FEMA. An agreement with the Red Cross will house survivors for a minimum of 36 weeks, while the state and various agencies work to secure more housing options to keep people housed well into 2025.

The Governor is authorizing $100 million dollars in Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) to support families in need across our state, especially on Maui.

To relieve businesses impacted by the Lahaina wildfires, Governor Green announced a plan to work with the House and Senate leadership, Maui County and the Hawaiʻi Community Foundation to make $25 million immediately available in the form of $10,000 and $20,000 bridge grants to help businesses survive until the economy recovers.

With thousands of jobs in jeopardy due to the closure of West Maui to visitors, the Governor shared that all travel restrictions will end and West Maui will be open again starting October 8.

Many have asked when it will be the right time to reopen West Maui to visitors. There is no easy answer to this question, but I can say that if we support Maui’s economy and keep our people employed, they will heal faster and continue to be able to afford to live on Maui. Beginning October 8, all travel restrictions will end and West Maui will be open to visitors again, so people from Hawaiʻi and around the world can resume travel to this special place and help it begin to recover economically,” said Governor Green.

The Governor also provided an estimated timeline for when displaced survivors may be able to return and view their properties.

“Once the EPA has completed the removal of hazardous materials from the affected areas, which will take three to four months, we can begin the removal of the remaining debris,” said Governor Green. “We are in partnership with FEMA and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers in this effort, which will take the better part of a year to complete. We have engaged 25 cultural practitioners to help guide this effort and ensure that Hawaiian traditions are respected during this process, and we will make every effort to use local workers and local companies to complete the work.”

He further emphasized again – “the land of Lahaina is reserved for its people as they return and rebuild, and I instructed the Attorney General to impose enhanced criminal penalties, including up to a year in prison, on anyone who tries to take advantage of victims by the unsolicited acquiring of property in affected areas of Maui.”

The Attorney General has already begun the process of conducting a full investigation of the cause of the fires and the emergency response via an independent third-party company.

As of today, there have been a total of 115 fatalities. The FBI has reported that 66 people are potentially still unaccounted for based on information they have received, and the Maui Police Department continues to make progress on outstanding missing persons reports.

# # #

Media Contacts:

Erika Engle

Press Secretary

Office of the Governor, State of Hawai‘i

Office: (808) 586-0120

Email: [email protected]

Makana McClellan

Director of Communications

Office of the Governor, State of Hawaiʻi

Cell: (808) 265-0083

Email: [email protected]