Local aid workers head to Maui amid deadly wildfires

Members of the New Jersey and Southeastern Pennsylvania Red Cross headed to Hawaii to provide aid amid the deadly wildfires devastating Maui

The volunteers will provide help with medical relief, logistics, and search and rescue. Some aid workers will provide assist the disaster relief efforts virtually.

"If people have lost their medications in the disaster or durable medical equipment, we as nurses of disaster help team help them get it replaced," Andrea Webb, a registered nurse, said.

A search of the wildfire devastation on Maui Thursday revealed a wasteland of obliterated neighborhoods and landmarks charred beyond recognition, as the death toll rose to at least 53. 


Hawaii wildfires: How to help those impacted on Maui, Big Island

Officials said relief is needed immediately, and more will be required later as the islands recover from the impacts.

Survivors told harrowing tales of narrow escapes with only the clothes on their backs. Hawaii Gov. Green said he expects the death toll to rise as search and rescue operations continue. 

Officials believe the Maui wildfire will become the state’s deadliest natural disaster since a 1961 tsunami killed 61 people on the Big Island.

Aid workers like Webb have experience dealing with disaster relief efforts in extraordinarily dire situations. She previously deployed to California to aid with flooding and Guam after a typhoon.

"You just need to be able to help them replace any sense of stability that they might need," Webb said.

Two members of Pennsylvania's Task Force One will deploy on Friday. They will work with government officials to help coordinate meetings and make action plans for search and rescue. 

"There are K9 responding that have a capability to search for both human remains and individuals," Captain Ken Pagurek said. 

President Joe Biden declared a major disaster on Maui. Traveling in Utah on Thursday, he pledged that the federal response will ensure that "anyone who’s lost a loved one, or whose home has been damaged or destroyed, is going to get help immediately." Biden promised to streamline requests for assistance and said the Federal Emergency Management Agency was "surging emergency personnel" on the island.