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Barack Obama Has Responded To The Devastating Wildfires In Hawaii

The wildfires have killed at least 36 people on the island of Maui and the death toll could rise.

Uncontrollable wildfires have been spreading across the island of Maui in Hawaii, virtually destroying the historic town of Lahaina and leaving at least 36 people dead. Photos and videos of the devastation have left people in shock at the apocalyptic scene, which President Barack Obama said in a tweet are “tough” to see and directed people to an organization helping support those affected.

The wildfires in Hawaii are some of the worst in U.S. history, caused by a combination of strong winds, dry vegetation, and low humidity, according to Scientific American. Firefighters have been struggling to keep ahead of the unpredictable blaze, with Maui’s assistant fire chief explaining in a statement, “The fire can be a mile or more from your house, but in a minute or two, it can be at your house.” This has forced many people to flee their homes, thousands of which are without power, and left many parts of the island cut off from accessing emergency services like 911.

President Obama took to Twitter on Wednesday to address the situation. “It’s tough to see some of the images coming out of Hawai’i — a place that’s so special to so many of us,” he tweeted. “Michelle and I are thinking of everyone who has lost a loved one, or whose life has been turned upside down.” He also included a link to Hawaii Community Foundation for those who want to help.

Obama has a special history with Hawaii. He was born in Oahu and grew up in Honolulu, and has returned many, many times as an adult. When he and wife Michelle were in the White House, they took a yearly vacation every December to go back to Hawaii with their children, Malia and Sasha. Since those early years, Obama’s daughters have gone on to embrace their father’s home state as special to them as well, visiting together this January to hand out food and blankets to people in need. The tradition of spending time in Hawaii continues in the Obama family.

As the strong winds hopefully ease up enough to allow firefighting planes and rescue teams to put out the fires, organizations like the Hawaii Community Foundation and Maui United Way are providing support to the communities affected by this disaster. The Maui Food Bank is also accepting monetary donations as well as certain food and clothing donations. Additionally, the American Red Cross is working on providing disaster relief to people who have been forced to flee their homes.