As recovery operations are under way following Hawaii's terrible fires, which have claimed 96 lives, shelters are overcrowded in Maui.
On Sunday, Sen. Brian Schatz (D-HI) gave a brief update on the Lahaina recovery efforts.
He claimed that the “search and recovery phase” that FEMA is in there with its dogs will be a protracted and “painful” procedure.
“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 went on to say, adding that mobile health units are set to be deployed on Monday.
But currently, “shelters are overwhelmed,” he said. “So housing is our highest priority, either hotels or local families that have a little space.”
Over 1,600 individuals were staying in shelters, according to Hawaii Governor Josh Green (D).
“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, further stating that that FEMA workers are on the ground to make sure that everyone is enlisted for the programs they are eligible for — a difficult task, since people still do not have internet access.
The senator's statement comes as the dead toll ticks up to 96 on Monday morning, getting closer to 100. This number is anticipated to increase. Police Chief John Pelletier estimates that cadaver dogs have only been used to search 3% of the affected regions.
“Three percent. That’s what’s been searched with the dogs. Three percent,” he said.