Hawaiian holiday: FEMA lives it up in the best hotels on Maui's luxurious north side
Who says attending to disaster relief can't be combined with a ritzy Hawaiian holiday?
That's what's going around as news rolls out of just how FEMA officials, flown in from the mainland, are enduring the "hardships" of their search and recovery work on Lahaina.
According to the Daily Mail, which broke the story:
Bungling U.S. government bureaucrats dispatched to the Maui disaster zone are shacked up in $1,000-a-night luxury hotels on the Hawaiian island, DailyMail.com can reveal.
Officials from the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) have been slammed by locals over their slow response to the devastating wildfires that have claimed at least 114 lives and left thousands of people homeless after their houses were scorched to the ground.
But that has not stopped the under-fire agency from splashing taxpayer cash to put up more than 1,000 of its personnel at four bank-breaking resorts in Wailea after the deadliest wildfire in the U.S. for more than a century that caused an estimated $5billion in damage.
RadarOnline has more details here about the luxury hotels — the Fairmont Kea Lani, Four Seasons, and the Grand Wailea Astoria which are housing the disaster bureaucracy.
Pools, spas, $32 drinks, towel service, laundry, room service, and other luxury accommodations are all available to them. One of the hotels is suites-only. The cheapest ones go for $1,000 a night, which is more than the $700 that Lahaina's residents are getting for their entire ordeal being burned out of their homes.
What's more, these pricey celebrity-level accommodation digs aren't anywhere near Lahaina and its fire zone — they're a 45-minute drive up to the ritzy north side of the island — which ups the vacay quotient for sure. Fox News's Jesse Watters noted that there was actually plenty of hotel space closer to the disaster site available and at much cheaper rates.
And that has given Maui's beleaguered residents mainly from fire-razed Lahaina another reason to be angry at big government, according to Hawaii News Now:
It's rubbing devastated Lahaina residents the wrong way as they continue dealing with the wildfires' aftermath. Some are displaced and have lost their homes and jobs; others may have lost loved ones or still have unaccounted-for loved ones.
One resident, Dustin Kaleiopu, lost his home in the Lahaina fire.
"So they're seeing government employees or government volunteers staying in these luxury accommodations being funded by taxpayers; that's where a lot of the frustration comes from," said Kaleiopu.
Maui's a relatively small place, and word gets around fast — which means the luxury vacay life of FEMA elites is pretty well being waved in the residents' faces.
Oh, but hey, nothing funny here, they're paying the government rate, a FEMA spokesman told Hawaii News Now:
FEMA Spokesperson Darrell Habisch does not deny they are staying at five-star hotels.
He confirms that taxpayers' money is paying for lodging for employees and survivors.
"FEMA personnel and responders are not here on vacation," said Habisch. "We're all here for the residents of Maui and the survivors of this terrible, this terrible incident."
Habisch said instead of the $1,000 a night rate, FEMA is paying hotels the government rate of $345.
"And if these larger resorts have the capacity, they're the ones who agreed to it to say, yeah, we want to help; they want to help as much as everybody else," said Habisch. "So, they're saying we will take a dramatically reduced government rate that you can get at any hotel on the island, and we'll agree to that."
"And they will still receive all the amenities available at that hotel, and that is a decision made by the hotel."
That makes these underpriced rooms a gift, a taxable gift, for sure, but don't hold your breath that these people will pay it.
All of this comes in striking contrast to what FEMA is doing to house Lahaina's displaced residents, the people they are ostensibly there to "help." While the FEMA elites take in the spas at the Four Seasons, the local talent get sent to places with names like the Days Inn, the Sheraton, and private homes, plus some talk about bringing trailers in. Five-star accommodations for FEMA elites; little guys get the motels and private homes.
In other words, FEMA kept the best for themselves. Their help is only for about 620 residents, according to one report, or 1,900 residents, according to another. FEMA itself is housing more than 1,000 of their own personnel in these luxe spaces.
Something a little out of proportion here?
And not surprisingly, FEMA's top official says the agency is running out of money.
It roughly resembles the dynamics of America's endless wars, where huge amounts of money are splashed out for "aid," and all of it goes to consultants and their contracts rather than the people intended to help.
Seems FEMA has adopted this model, too, and with several disasters to tour every year, it's a sweet life, indeed.
But maybe that's not how this is supposed to go.
Image: Screen shot from Forbes Breaking News video via YouTube.