HONOLULU (KHON2) — As recovery efforts continue on Maui, Governor Josh Green is headed to Washington, D.C. this week to meet with President Biden. He’s planning to show his appreciation for the federal government’s help while asking for more assistance.
“We’re going to have a lot of housing needs for sure, we also have the debris cleanup we’ve already got 6 months of 100% reimbursement we’ll probably need a little more in order to expedite that, so on behalf of Lahaina on behalf of the recovery just keep giving us resources and we’re so grateful for the FEMA support we have,” Governor Green said.
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The return to tourism to West Maui has been slow since opening on October 8th. According to the Department of Business and Economic Development, there have been an average of 4,252 visitor arrivals on Maui in October of 2023 compared to an average of 6,292 in October of 2022.
“By Thanksgiving, we’ll have that toward normal,” Governor Green said. “Of course, we’ll make sure people stay in their housing or their hotels as needed so there will be a constrained inventory of people space to stay for tourists, but that’s ok. We’re gradually healing and I think the mayor has some announcements coming up on when the next phases of opening will actually occur but it’s not in the far future,”
Over the weekend a gun buyback program was held at two locations, one in Honolulu and one in Waianae. Governor Green says he was surprised by the participation.
“It kicked butt, I’m so grateful to law enforcement, I’m grateful to our citizens we bought back 494 guns many of them were semi-automatic weapons, there was one Uzi we out gift cards so they could go buy food for their family. $200 for semi-automatic weapons $100 for kind of handguns and ghost guns, we’re going to keep doing this so quarterly we’ll get guns off of the street and we did this in honor of Richianna that beautiful girl who had a terrible tragedy where that stray bullet hit her in the head. We need to protect our kids we’re going to do things that are creative,” Governor Green said.
He adds that the buybacks are just half of what he’s looking to do to help with violent crime.
“The other half is repaying physician and nurse practitioner and psychologist loans so that when they do behavioral health like drug treatment, mental healthcare, we have more providers. So trying a new approach which is to take some guns off of the street, optional, get more healthcare to people, more safety,” he said.
Meanwhile, the defueling of the military’s Red Hill Bulk Fuel Storage Facility continues into its second week.
“Pretty happy about it so far, two minutes ago I got the latest update we’re now at 20.6% of all of the fuel of the 104 million gallons has already come out in a week. If they can keep that pace up it’s going to go quite quickly. Still going to pray and hope that it goes as smoothly as it has. It may go a little slower as time goes by because it’s being driven by gravity we’re using gravity to pull it so that it’s safer there’s less mechanical issue that we would have to face. We just don’t want to see any spills at all not a drop if we can help it,” Governor Green said.
While there are a gluttony of issues for him to tackle, he is still pursuing the construction of the New Aloha Stadium.
“We’re on target to have our RFP go out appropriately that’s with the Attorney General’s Office right now and meet regularly with the Stadium Authority and I’m grateful that everyone is kind of staying on message and on target. Because with the fire with other large challenges in Hawaii sometimes these projects drift and I don’t want them to drift. I of course want us to be a vibrant stadium team city state for sports because that’s another thing that people recover. You saw what happened at Lahainaluna with their game, that’s a microcosm of this but if you can have sport if you can have some things to just take down the heat, sometimes that helps people heal too,”