The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) issued letters to first responders and relief personnel in Maui, urging them to refrain from sharing pictures and videos of the devastated area on social media, referencing "cultural sensitivity."
“They are asking for a full stop in disaster imagery going forward,” the letter from Justin Angel Knighten of FEMA notes, referring to local officials, Summit News reports. “At this time, we have not been asked to take any photos or videos down."
"Our team on the ground is coordinating with the County for further guidance to ensure we remain fully aligned. Cultural sensitivity is of the utmost importance in all our response and recovery activities to this disaster,” the letter further read.
The disclosure has further intensified queries regarding the response of both local and federal governments.
Alarm systems remained silent, and water assistance for firefighting was not provided when requested.
Senior emergency officials responsible for managing the wildfire response were absent from the island during the fire's peak. They remained uninformed for five hours as they were participating in a FEMA disaster readiness conference on the nearby island of Oahu.
On Wednesday, the Associated Press revealed that barricades, set up due to fallen electric poles and ongoing repair efforts, stopped the residents of Lahaina from fleeing the devastating wildfire.