There have been a lot of questions swirling about the Maui fire as well as the effort to keep out media from the area. As we reported, FEMA allegedly said in a letter that they had been asked by Maui officials to “pause on posting on social media and elsewhere images of damage/disaster/debris starting now,” claiming that it was “out of respect for those who perished.” So they were telling a non-profit coming to help out in the area not to take pictures.
Now there’s more talk on social media about black cloth and wire fencing that has gone around miles of the affected fire area in Lahaina.
There’s been speculation about why the wall is there. Some have even dubbed the black wall the “Biden curtain.” Reportedly people were being chased away when they stopped. And it’s sort of feeding all kinds of theories about why they have a wall up around the affected area of Lahaina and if something is being hidden. Maybe that’s a function of our lack of trust in government today.
So here’s the official explanation of that wall/curtain — it’s reportedly a dust screen to keep the dust/ash from the affected area blowing onto the highway as they work to deal with the debris.
The wall/curtain will cover 30,000 linear feet of dust screen for the protection of highway users on Honoapiʻilani Highway (Route 30) and the Lahaina Bypass (Route 3000). They’ve been building it since August 16. It will take about a month and stretch for five miles.
Robin Shishido — who is the Hawaii Department of Transportation Deputy Director for Highways — explained that officials wanted to protect people from potentially hazardous materials.
He said that ultimately they would be building it up to 12 feet high and that it would probably be there for at least a year. He said it’s similar to fences you might see at a building development and it keeps the dust contained more.
A year? The poor people of Maui if it takes that long to clear the debris and help out that area. That’s a long time to essentially be a building site/construction zone.
They’re able to put up the fence because of Emergency Relief funding from the Federal Highway Administration to help provide safe access to West Maui. Building the screen will cost $2.4 million and will also use state dollars, Shisido said. It will go generally around the burned area.
The federal government has come under a lot of criticism for its response, This is one thing they did have a hand in, hence, the “Biden curtain.” Yet, it might be a bit ironic perhaps since Joe Biden has a history of claiming that walls don’t work.