A Maui resident who led grassroots relief efforts after the devastating Lahaina fire on August 8 told Breitbart News in an exclusive interview that President Joe Biden’s visit to Hawaii made things worse.
“It was a waste of time. That did hinder the efforts because all the fire department and everybody had to back off and make room for him to walk through the area when our first priority is getting the people out of there, dead or alive,” Dale Hermo-Fernandez told Breitbart News in a phone interview on Friday.
Biden visited Maui on August 21, nearly two weeks after a brushfire destroyed the town of Lahaina on August 8 and killed more than a hundred residents, with several hundred still missing.
At that time of Biden’s visit, 15 percent of the disaster area still needed to be searched for unaccounted persons, and recovery efforts were in full swing, with thousands still lacking electricity and access to clean water.
Hermo-Fernandez also blamed Biden for not doing more sooner to help with recovery efforts.
“All the way to the top, the government could have acted better,” he said.
He was not the only Maui resident who criticized Biden’s trip.
One resident told Hawaii News Now that his comments did not “sit very well with my heart”:
As far as building a better community or better homes than what we had, I unfortunately, didn’t like that, only because for our Kupuna [elders] and the Lahaina family and for a lot of people that had lost what they had lost, there’s no replacing that. There’s no better; there’s no new; there’s no better than that. Forgive me, if I might have misunderstood him, but yeah, that that didn’t sit very well with my heart when he said that.
Residents also reportedly flipped off Biden’s motorcade when he arrived in Maui.
CBS News reported that “a group of frustrated residents took to the streets to yell at his passing motorcade, as many are upset over the president taking two weeks to visit the devastated island — as well as the five-day span last week when Biden refused to answer questions on the topic.”
A video of residents shouting expletives at Biden circulated on social media.
Maui Locals Slam Biden: “Thanks for nothing! F*ck You!”pic.twitter.com/amlnO9uoI7
— RPK Report (@RPKReport) August 22, 2023
Biden was also criticized for remarks in Maui comparing the devastation of the fire to a small fire in his home 19 years ago and telling residents that he had a sense of what it was like to “lose a home.”
“I don’t want to compare difficulties, but we have a little sense, Jill and I, what it’s like to lose a home,” he said at the Lahaina Civic Center. “To make a long story short, I almost lost my wife, my ‘67 Corvette, and my cat. But all kidding aside, I watched the firefighters, the way they responded…And they ran into flames to save my wife and save my family. Not a joke.”
WATCH: Biden Talking About House Fire During Speech in Maui
A 2004 Associated Press article on the fire said it was “small,” contained to the kitchen, and put out in 20 minutes.
CITIZEN RESPONSE TO JOE BIDEN’S SPEECH IN MAUI *
— The_Real_Fly (@The_Real_Fly) August 22, 2023
Even before he visited Maui, Biden was criticized for saying, “No comment,” when he was asked about the rising death toll from the fires.
At the time, he was returning from his home in Rehoboth Beach, Delaware, to Washington, D.C.
Days later, the White House announced Biden would visit Maui.
Follow Breitbart News’s Kristina Wong on Twitter, Truth Social, or on Facebook.
Read the full article here