According to Fox News on Sunday, August 20, 2023, FEMA Administrator Deanne Criswell provided updates on the federal government’s response to the devastating wildfires in Maui and incoming Hurricane Hilary during recent White House briefings.
Criswell explained that President Biden directed her to personally travel to Maui to assess the wildfire damage, meet with state and local officials, and report back so he could understand the situation and needs on the ground. She stated she was in constant communication with the President throughout the crisis.
Criswell said the President made it clear that FEMA should provide all possible federal resources to help Maui with the immediate emergency response as well as long-term recovery and rebuilding efforts.
She reiterated that FEMA is committed to supporting Maui residents and officials in rebuilding in whatever way they envision.
When asked about Republican criticism of Biden’s delayed public remarks on the wildfire crisis, Criswell defended the President’s approach of sending her as his representative while he focused on managing the federal response.
Criswell also discussed FEMA’s preparations for Hurricane Hilary as it approaches the West Coast. She said FEMA is working closely with California officials, emphasizing the importance of heeding local warnings.
While applauding California’s emergency response capabilities, Criswell stressed the seriousness of the storm given its potential for catastrophic flooding.
In both crisis situations, Criswell advocated for greater investment in mitigation projects to strengthen communities against worsening severe weather due to climate change.
She stated the federal government must help states prepare for and respond to more frequent extreme events going forward.