US Military Deployed to Battle Natural Disaster

( – As rescue efforts continue on the Hawaiian island of Maui, President Joe Biden has ordered the US military to assist. At least 67 people are thought to have died after wildfires swept the island last week. Biden says the US Coast Guard and units from the Navy’s 3rd Fleet are now helping, along with Army and National Guard helicopters.

On August 9, Biden gave an update on how federal assets are helping rescue survivors of the devastating fires that have caused widespread devastation on Maui. He said the Coast Guard and the US Navy’s 3rd Fleet, which is based in San Diego, California and provides our naval forces in the Pacific Ocean, are now helping with search and rescue (SAR) operations.

The Hawaii Army National Guard’s CH-47 Chinook heavy lift helicopters have carried out fire suppression and SAR, helped by US Marine UH-60 Blackhawks. Indo-Pacific Command — which commands all US forces in the Pacific region — has assigned Army UH-60 Blackhawk helicopters and more Chinooks to join the operation.

The fires have caused enormous damage. The popular tourist resort of Lahaina has been worst hit, with most of the town destroyed by an unusually intense blaze. One local pilot says the area looks like “a bomb went off.” Now, questions are being asked about why emergency sirens didn’t sound to warn residents of the approaching disaster.

Hawaii has around 400 sirens, including 80 on Maui, but the Hawaii Emergency Management Agency says nobody at either the state or county government level tried to activate them when the Lahaina fire erupted on August 8. Alerts were sent by text message and on TV, though.

Governor Josh Green (D) has ordered a review of the state’s response to the disaster, but that might have to wait. Multiple fires are still raging on Maui, and the death toll is likely to climb even higher.

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