On Tuesday’s broadcast of CNN’s “AC360,” CNN Chief Climate Correspondent Bill Weir reported from Kula, Hawaii and said that despite talk that “the cavalry’s coming,” “we’ve got guys putting out fires with bottled water and volunteers in helicopters, in this neighborhood, at least at the moment,” and that over the weekend, he “didn’t see a single person in uniform” other than cops working checkpoints, and he hasn’t seen the relief efforts from the military where he is.
Weir said, “Well, this is really fascinating, Anderson, a dramatic scene just played out here. We’re in the Kula neighborhood, this is miles away from Lahaina, which you know is on the — right on the beach town. This is up country as they call it here, up in the mountains where several hundred homes have burned. But we just witnessed, you see these bottle of — bottled water drop-offs people are having here. We just witnessed a couple of — three guys from Oahu who had flown over here as volunteers who were taking that water and hiking through the brush and putting out actually active hot spots over there that are flaring up right now. These are — this fire is only 60% contained and there are these little leftover fires from last week up in these canyons. Just as they were fighting a fire with bottled water, basically, a private helicopter came, saw them, and dropped a big bucket of water right on that hot spot. So, this is the response. I know we’re talking — we were hearing that, a week into this, the cavalry’s coming, but we’ve got guys putting out fires with bottled water and volunteers in helicopters, in this neighborhood, at least at the moment, Anderson.”
Host Anderson Cooper then asked, “So, are you seeing federal aid? Are you seeing — I mean, FEMA, are they on the ground? How many military personnel are on the ground? What sort of — what kind of an organized response have you seen?”
Weir answered, “Well, I’ve got to tell you — and we’ve both covered a lot of these things — I spent all weekend with just citizen first responders setting up these relief pods in neighborhoods, and didn’t see a single person in uniform. The only Maui County officials we saw were the cops working the checkpoints, as well, and here we are, I was expecting to see some Humvees, maybe some helicopters today, still haven’t. Now, that doesn’t mean they’re not out there. The Pentagon says today there are six new missions launching from the Army command here in the Pacific, all kinds of relief effort[s] that they’ve got Coast Guard and military personnel fighting fires, but honestly, we haven’t seen it. The locals here are shocked that they’re putting out fires in their backyards while they’re cutting down burned trees and are surprised that the road is still open the way it is.”
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