Joe Biden fiddles around on favourite beach as Hawaii burns

The Bidens spent the weekend at their summer house in Delaware (L) while burned houses and buildings are pictured on Saturday in the aftermath of the wildfire (R).—AFP

President Joe Biden has come under sharp criticism for his silence regarding the increasing death toll resulting from the catastrophic wildfires in Hawaii.

While the devastating fires have claimed the lives of 96 people, President Biden spent two leisurely hours relaxing on Rehoboth Beach in Delaware on Sunday, declining to comment on the unfolding tragedy.

Amidst the turmoil caused by the wildfires, the 80-year-old president was photographed reclining on a sun lounger near his holiday home in Delaware. Earlier, he attended mass at St. Edmond’s Catholic Church in the resort town.

As he left the beach, President Biden was asked by a White House correspondent from Bloomberg about his response to the ongoing wildfires. His terse reply was, “No comment.”

Hawaii’s Democratic governor and senators have expressed gratitude to President Biden for swiftly approving an emergency declaration, unlocking federal rescue funds, and dispatching FEMA officials. Nevertheless, discontent has risen on the islands as federal aid is yet to arrive in full force. Paul Romero, the owner of a gym in Kihei, voiced frustration, labelling the response from the government as “incredibly pathetic.” He remarked, “We can’t even understand what they did, what they didn’t do, what they’re still not doing.”

Amidst the growing speculation surrounding the cause of the devastating blazes, the possibility of a spark from the electricity supply has emerged. A class-action lawsuit has been filed against Hawaiian Electric by LippSmith LLP and other law firms, alleging that downed power lines by the company ignited the fires. The lawsuit claims the company disregarded fire warnings and kept their power lines energized.

Hawaiian Electric responded, asserting its focus on supporting emergency response efforts and restoring power to affected areas. The company clarified that the cause of the fire remains undetermined and pledged cooperation with state and county reviews. Reports reveal that Hawaiian Electric failed to shut off power lines despite warnings of hurricane-force winds approaching the island.

In comparison, states like California, experienced in handling wildfires, often deploy a “public power shutoff plan” to prevent fire outbreaks during wind events. California’s implementation of this plan followed the destructive wildfires of 2017 and 2018. These wildfires were the most lethal and damaging the nation had witnessed in the past century until the current Hawaii crisis unfolded.

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