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Maui’s emergency management chief resigns amid criticism

Maui Emergency Management Agency Chief Herman Andaya has tendered his resignation amid growing criticism over the agency’s choice not to activate emergency sirens during a destructive wildfire that claimed the lives of more than 111 people.

Facing intense scrutiny from residents and the media alike, Herman Andaya’s decision to step down was attributed to health-related reasons, according to a statement released by Maui County Mayor Richard Bissen. Recognizing the urgency of the situation, Bissen emphasized the rapid placement of a suitable successor.

Andaya’s resignation coincides with his inaugural appearance at a news conference, which came more than a week after the fires wreaked havoc, damaging or destroying an estimated 2,200 structures and incurring a staggering $5.5 billion in losses . The residual toll left hundreds of people missing, underscoring the scale of the tragedy.

At the heart of the public outcry is the controversial issue of emergency sirens. Some residents argue that the outcome could have been different if they had been used. The agency’s rationale for not using sirens stems from concerns about creating chaos and confusion among residents. In a tense press conference, Andaya elucidated: “The public is trained to seek higher ground in case the siren goes off… if we had sounded the siren that night, we’re afraid people would have walked into the fire.” .

At the same time, President Joe Biden extended his assurance of unwavering federal support to the affected community in Maui. He cited the immediate deployment of aid, including personnel, subsistence and essential supplies. President Biden plans to visit Hawaii soon to assess the destruction firsthand and engage with first responders and survivors.

In response to growing concerns, Hawaii Attorney General Anne Lopez has taken steps to launch an impartial investigation. A third-party agency will conduct a comprehensive review of actions taken by state and county officials in response to the wildfires. The research aims to foster transparency and accountability after the disaster, which is a step towards healing and recovery.

This article is sourced from and written by AI.

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