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Loreben Tuquero
By Loreben Tuquero August 24, 2023

‘Zero response’ for Maui, Hawaii claim is false; government aid came hours after wildfire started

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  • The video posted Aug. 21 ignores that government aid was made available hours after the wildfires started.

Maui, Hawaii’s location and accessibility may have hindered relief efforts after the recent wildfires there, but a video posted several days after the tragedy is wrong to say there has been no government response at all.

"There has been zero response from local, regional or federal officials. The people in Maui have been completely abandoned by our federal criminal government," an Aug. 21 Facebook video’s narrator said.

This post was flagged as part of Meta’s efforts to combat false news and misinformation on its News Feed. (Read more about our partnership with Meta, which owns Facebook and Instagram.)

By Aug. 21, the day the video was posted, relief efforts were underway. Local, state and federal websites and social media accounts, as well as news reports, started providing information on emergency response and relief efforts as early as Aug. 8, the day the wildfires started.

On Aug. 8, Hawaii time, Maui County said its emergency operating center was "fully activated" and coordinating with the Hawaii Emergency Management Agency for state and federal resources, and that the U.S. Coast Guard was taking people to safe areas.

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President Joe Biden said Aug. 9 that he ordered all available federal assets on the islands to assist with the response, and mentioned fire suppression, search and rescue, evacuation and post-fire recovery. 

On Aug. 9, Hawaii time, the county said 30 U.S. Army service members arrived and started search and recovery. The White House on Aug. 10 said federal funding was made available to fire victims, and that assistance can include grants for temporary housing and home repairs and low-cost loans for uninsured property losses.

The White House made updates Aug. 15 and Aug. 19, detailing Maui aid efforts from "dozens" of federal departments and agencies.

But local residents reportedly found the government response "slow, inadequate and uncoordinated," because of many factors, The Washington Post reported. Maui is reachable only by plane or boat, and Lahaina is accessible only by water or a heavily restricted highway, The Washington Post reported. Meanwhile, the Federal Emergency Management Agency is facing financial constraints and staffing shortages. 

Nonetheless, saying there has been "zero response" from the government is inaccurate. Maui County’s website on relief efforts compiled resources for government aid on this page.

We rate the claim False.

Our Sources

Facebook post, Aug. 21, 2023

Maui County website, accessed Aug. 24, 2023

FEMA, Maui Residents May be Eligible for Transitional Sheltering, Critical Needs, Aug. 14, 2023

Maui County Facebook post, Aug. 9, 2023

Maui County Facebook post, Aug. 9, 2023

Maui County Facebook post, Aug. 10, 2023

The White House, Statement from President Joe Biden on the Wildfires in Hawaii, Aug. 9, 2023

The White House, President Joseph R. Biden, Jr. Approves Hawaii Disaster Declaration, Aug. 10, 2023

The White House, FACT SHEET: Biden-⁠Harris Administration’s Response to the Maui Wildfires, Aug. 15, 2023

The White House, FACT SHEET: Biden-⁠Harris Administration’s Latest Actions to Support Communities Impacted by Maui Wildfires, Aug. 19, 2023

The Washington Post, Maui survivors say government help still lags, Aug. 17, 2023

Hawai’i Emergency Management Agency, August 2023 wildfires, accessed Aug. 23, 2023

Maui Nui Strong, Resources for Government Aid, accessed Aug. 24, 2023

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‘Zero response’ for Maui, Hawaii claim is false; government aid came hours after wildfire started

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