State Watch

FEMA director describes Maui wildfire as ‘scene from an apocalyptic movie’ 

Deanne Criswell, the director of the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), described wildfires devastating the island of Maui as a “scene from an apocalyptic movie.”

Criswell described the aftermath of the Maui wildfires that has left at least 93 people dead as of Sunday morning to CBS reporter Jonathan Vigliotti. The wildfire devastated the historic town of Lahaina last week, leaving hundreds of structures destroyed and many more damaged.

“It’s absolutely heartbreaking to just see an entire community that is no longer there,” Criswell said. “And I think one of the things that was just really the most shocking, I guess, I would say is the roll of cars of people that were trying to drive and escape and then couldn’t get out fast enough.”

“And these are the ones that ended up running or jumping into the water and there’s cars just there. I mean, it was like a scene from an apocalyptic movie,” she added.

Maui County officials announced that the death toll climbed to 93 over the weekend, surpassing the total killed during the 2018 Camp Fire in northern California, which left 85 dead. Criswell said that FEMA is bringing in more teams with more dogs to search the area to find any remaining victims.

“But I think one of the challenging things is many of the areas that they’re in searching, there’s structures that are partially standing and so the engineers are embedded with them to evaluate the stability of that structure,” she said.

When Vigliotti told Criswell that his sources say the the death toll could end up in the hundreds, Criswell said she “wouldn’t second guess them.”

Tags Deanne Criswell FEMA maui fire

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