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'New Normal': Hawaiian Senator Says Maui Fire Caused By Climate Change

Brian Schatz: 'We All Have To Understand That Severe Weather Events Are Going To Get More Frequent And More Severe'

Hawaii Senator Brian Schatz said the disastrous fire which struck Lahaina on Maui was caused by climate change and further suggested “severe weather” could plague the planet.

During a Monday appearance on CNN, host John Berman asked the Hawaii senator what he believed was an important lesson to be learned from Maui tragedy, which has killed at least 115 people.

“Well, I think we all have to understand that severe weather events are going to get more frequent and more severe,” Schatz, a Democrat, answered. “Hawaii is a place that has experienced volcanic eruptions and tsunamis and hurricanes and tropical storms. And we’ve had a few wildfires but nothing that threatened a whole city — nothing that flattened a whole city.”

“I just think this is the new normal for not just the State of Hawaii, but for the whole planet — for the whole country,” he continued. “So, you know, as we contend with increasing severe weather all the time, we’re not only going to need to take action on climate.”

“We actually need to be prepared in terms of our emergency response at the state, local, and federal levels for the kind of disaster that maybe you hadn’t contemplated before.”

“There is a process that we are going through FEMA-led with cadaver dogs to go through every single structure in Lahaina town, and wherever else there was damage,” the Hawaii senator said, adding he didn’t want to speculate. “And obviously, we have between 110 and 120 confirmed deceased. And then there’s a process of identifying via DNA sample, the identity of the deceased. But we’re just not done with the process yet.”

“We are hoping that many of the missing simply haven’t checked in and lacked telecommunications. But we just don’t know.”

On Monday, President Biden and First Lady Jill visited the island.

“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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