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FEMA, partners providing critical aid to Hawaii wildfire response, recovery efforts

August 17, 2023

First responders and search and rescue teams continue working in the devastated areas on Maui. As of yesterday, FEMA has approved more than $2.3 million in assistance to 1,331 households, including more than $798,000 in initial rental assistance, to help survivors jumpstart their recovery.

More than 4,400 survivors have registered for federal assistance and may be eligible for immediate resources such as hotel rooms or financial assistance.

Field teams in Hawaii will open a joint disaster recovery centre where survivors can speak face-to-face with FEMA specialists, get in touch with voluntary organizations and have access to other federal and state resources.

FEMA is working closely with state, county and federal partners to aid active response efforts and to help survivors jumpstart their recovery. More than 190 search and rescue team members and 420 FEMA personnel are deployed to assist Hawaii residents in their greatest time of need, including 98 disaster survivor assistance staff to help survivors register for assistance.


Hawaii Gov. Josh Green and the Hawaii Housing Finance and Development Corporation launched the Hawaii Fire Relief Housing program aimed at connecting Maui residents affected by the wildfires with property owners with vacant housing. This program is in addition to FEMA’s Transitional Sheltering Assistance, which allows survivors to shelter in pre-identified hotels or motels for a limited amount of time as they develop their housing plan. FEMA pays for these hotel rooms so there is no out of pocket expense for survivors.

The U.S. Small Business Administration has more than 30 staff on the ground in Hawaii and is phasing in more staff. Survivors and businesses who register for FEMA assistance, will also be eligible for low-interest disaster loans.

American Red Cross and Maui County continue to staff and support eight shelters where food, water, hygiene kits and other essential resources are provided to survivors who are unable to return home. FEMA survivor assistance specialists are located at the shelters helping people register for federal assistance. Those affected by the fires may visit a Red Cross shelter to get a hot meal, charge their phone and access other essential support.

More than 270 Red Cross staff are working with partners to ensure people receive help as quickly as possible and has distributed more than 25,000 meals and snacks to survivors and responded to more than 1,300 requests to help families locate missing loved ones.

Local and national voluntary organizations active in disasters (VOADs) are providing emergency assistance to survivors.

U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) is providing a 90-day moratorium on foreclosures of Federal Housing Administration insured mortgages and Home Equity Conversion Mortgages.

Understanding debris removal will be a critical aspect of recovery, FEMA mission assigned both the Environmental Protection Agency and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to start the process of debris collection and planning for removal.

Find the full FEMA news release here.

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