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NEWS | Aug. 18, 2023

DOD, FEMA Fully Engaged in Maui Recovery and Assistance Efforts

By David Vergun DOD News

Workers in work suits comb through debris.
Wildfire Support
Joint Task Force 5-0's search, rescue and recovery elements conduct operations in areas damaged by wildfires in the town of Lahaina on Maui, Hawaii, Aug. 15, 2023.
Photo By: Army Spc. Tonia Ciancanelli
VIRIN: 230815-Z-NE321-1012Y

Joint Task Force 5-0 is supporting the efforts of county, state and federal authorities on Maui, Hawaii, ensuring that the residents receive all necessary assistance available, said the task force commander. 

"I want to reiterate our commitment to the residents of Maui County and the broader Hawaiian community. The combined strength of our military and civilian partners is making a significant impact on the ground, and I'm immensely proud of every individual contributing to these efforts. We will continue to support and aid local, state and federal authorities and partners, ensuring that we offer the best possible support in the days and weeks ahead," said Army Brig. Gen. Stephen F. Logan during a press conference today. 

The wildfire has killed more than 100 people and destroyed much of the city of Lahaina. 

U.S. Army Pacific published a statement today on its support of the disaster, including the efforts of the Hawaii National Guard and JTF 5-0.  

Uniformed service members unload boxes from a military aircraft.
Maui Support
The Hawaii Air National Guard provided airlift for about 100 Hawaii Army National Guard soldiers, Aug. 15, 2023. The flight also contained medical supplies and equipment to support in Lahaina, Maui, Hawaii following devastating wildfires.
Photo By: Air National Guard Master Sgt. Andrew Jackson
VIRIN: 230815-Z-IX631-1013

According to the statement, the support includes: 

  • DOD has 691 personnel in Maui who are engaged in planning, synchronizing and coordinating support to FEMA and the state of Hawaii. 
  • Two CH-47 Chinook helicopters with water buckets from the Hawaii National Guard are conducting fire suppression support.  
  • Search and rescue teams are conducting searches over a wide area.   
  • JTF 5-0 continues to maintain traffic-control points and conduct 24-hour security operations in Lahaina in coordination with local law enforcement. 
  • The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers has moved 32 Federal Emergency Management Agency generators to Maui, and 61 generators are staged at Oahu. 
  • The secretary of defense has approved the Defense POW/MIA Accounting Agency to assign six forensic anthropologists to assist in gathering and identifying human remains. 
  • Other anticipated actions include engineering and damage assessments, including at port facilities, and rebuilding efforts.  

The statement also included a synopsis of containment efforts, saying: 

  • The fire in the Pulehu/Kihei area is 100% contained. 
  • The Lahaina wildfire is 85% contained.  
  • Fire in the area of Kula is 75% contained. 

According to Maui County, 2,170 acres burned in the vicinity of Lahaina and 678 acres burned in vicinity of Kula. 

Marcus Coleman, a senior FEMA official who spoke before the briefing by Logan, said FEMA is working closely with Maui's faith-based and community-based partners, as well as local, state and federal organizations. Currently, there are over 1,000 federal responders on Maui, including 350 search and rescue and canine team members. There are also FEMA survivor-assistance teams going to shelters, survivors' homes and places where people may need help, he said.  

Nearly 6,000 survivors have registered for federal assistance and may be eligible for immediate resources, such as hotel rooms or financial assistance, Coleman said. 

A helicopter scoops water in bucket.
Water Drop
An Army CH-47 Chinook fills a bucket with water to drop around the perimeter of an area impacted by the wildfires in the town of Lahaina on Maui, Hawaii, Aug. 16, 2023.
Photo By: Army Spc. Tonia Ciancanelli
VIRIN: 230816-Z-NE321-1154Y

Survivors who have not yet registered can do so 24 hours a day by calling 1-800-621-3362, visiting, or by using the FEMA app, he said. 

FEMA is encouraging survivors to visit its newly opened Joint Disaster Recovery Center at the University of Hawaii Maui College. Survivors can speak to FEMA specialists there, get assistance registering for disaster assistance, get in touch with volunteer organizations, and access other federal and state resources from 8 a.m. to 7 p.m., seven days a week, he said. 

FEMA has approved more than $5.6 million in assistance to nearly 2,000 households, including more than $2.3 million in initial rental assistance, he said.