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FEMA Requests Nonprofit Assisting Maui Refrain From Sharing Images Of Damage, Debris From Fire

The Agency's Message Follows President Biden And First Lady Jill's Visit To The Island

Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) sent an email to a nonprofit group who is assisting Maui, Hawaii, requesting individuals refrain from posting images of damage or debris from the fire earlier this month.

The email, submitted anonymously and sent from FEMA’s Director, Office of External Affairs Justin Knighten, notes Maui County officials have requested images of the disaster not be shared online.

“Out of respect for those who perished, we were asked by Maui County officials to pause on posting on social media and elsewhere new imagery of damage/disaster/debris starting now,” reads the email from FEMA. “They are asking for a full stop on disaster imagery going forward.”

“At this time, we have not been asked to take any photos or video down,” the email continues. “Our team on the ground is coordinating with the County for further guidance to ensure we remain fully aligned.”

“Cultural sensitivity is of the utmost importance in all our response and recovery activities to this disaster.”

The source reportedly found FEMA’s email “weird” because it arrived amidst President Joe Biden and First Lady Jill’s Monday visit to the island.

The Bidens had been vacationing in Lake Tahoe prior to their Monday visit to the island.

“I know how profoundly loss can impact a family and a community and I know nothing can replace the loss of life,” Biden said in a statement on Aug. 20 ahead of his trip. “I will do everything in my power to help Maui recover and rebuild from this tragedy. And throughout our efforts, we are focused on respecting sacred lands, cultures, and traditions.”

“From day one we immediately authorized three Fire Management Assistance Grants and as soon as Governor Green requested a Major Disaster Declaration, I signed it,” he said. “My Administration has mobilized a whole-of-government response effort with more than 1,000 federal personnel on the ground in Maui, including nearly 450 search and rescue team members.”

Biden delivered remarks from the island Monday.

“Today, it’s burned, but it’s still standing. The tree survived for a reason,” the President said. “I believe it’s a powerful — a very powerful symbol of what we can and will do to get through this crisis. And for this — for as long as it takes, we’re going to be with you — the whole country will be with you. You know, we will be respectful of these sacred grounds and the traditions that rebuild the way the people of Maui want to build, not the way others want to build. We’re going to rebuild the way the people of Maui want to build.”

President Biden detailed his first wife and daughter’s death in a 1972 car accident.

I remember when I got the call — my first wife and daughter — I was a young senator, and I got a call in Washington. I hadn’t been sworn in yet. I wasn’t old enough. And I was hiring staff in the Capitol in Teddy Kennedy’s office. And I got a phone call saying — from my fire department, and a young first responder kind of panicked and said, “You’ve got to come home. There’s been an accident.”

He added: “But I also want all of you to know the country grieves with you, stands with you, and we’ll do everything possible to help you recover, rebuild, and respect culture and traditions when the rebuilding takes place.”

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