Biden expands US aid for Hawaii as wildfires grip Maui By Reuters

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© Reuters. An aerial view shows smoke as wildfires ravage the island in Maui, Hawaii, August 9, 2023. County of Maui/Handout via REUTERS

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – President Joe Biden expanded federal aid for Hawaii on Thursday as deadly wildfires engulfed the island of Maui, and he expressed condolences for the devastation in a call with the state’s governor.

Biden approved a disaster declaration for Hawaii aimed at spurring resources to allow the island to rebuild, the White House said in a statement after the fire killed at least 36 people as it swept through one resort town.

“The president’s action makes federal funding available to affected individuals in Maui County,” the White House said, although it did not cite a specific amount.

In a call with Hawaii Governor Josh Green, Biden “expressed his deep condolences for the lives lost and vast destruction of land and property,” the White House added.

The declaration will allow affected individuals to apply for grants for temporary housing and home repairs, and allow business owners to apply for programs to recover from the disaster, according to the White House.

Those grants come in addition to current emergency assistance by Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), the National Guard, the U.S. Coast Guard and other federal agencies, it added.

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