‘Shelters Overwhelmed’ in Maui as Death Toll Reaches 96

Shelters are overwhelmed in Maui as recovery efforts are underway following Hawaii’s devastating fires which have claimed the lives of 96 individuals.

Sen. Brian Schatz (D-HI) provided a quick update on the recovery efforts in Lahaina on Sunday.

FEMA is there with their canines, which are in “search and recovery mode,” which he said will be a lengthy and “painful” process.

Eddy Garcia, founder of Regenerative Education Centers, poses for a portrait in Olowalu, Hawaii on August 11, 2023. Garcia and his nonprofit are gathering the community to build a shelter at his farm for 200 displaced people from the wildfire. (Mengshin Lin for The Washington Post via Getty Images)

“So just to brace yourself for that. The county is working with Lahaina town and the National Guard to try to secure the perimeter so that vehicular access can be restored to all of West Maui,” Schatz continued, adding that mobile health units will be deployed on Monday.

But right now, “shelters are overwhelmed,” he said. “So housing is our highest priority, either hotels or local families that have a little space.”

Hawaii Gov. Josh Green (D) said on Sunday that roughy 1,600 people were in shelters.

“The Army Corps of Engineers has been tasked by FEMA to be in charge of the debris removal in Lahaina town and just so we’re clear, that can’t start until search and recovery efforts are totally completed,” Schatz continued in his update, adding that FEMA workers are on the ground to ensure that everyone is enlisted for the programs they are eligible for — a difficult task, given that people still do not have internet access.

The senator’s update comes as the death toll nears 100, ticking up to 96 Monday morning. That figure is expected to rise. Just three percent of the affected areas have been searched with cadaver dogs, according to Police Chief John Pelletier.

“Three percent. That’s what’s been searched with the dogs. Three percent,” he said.

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