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Hawaii governor calls on people to visit West Maui when it reopens in October: "Helping our people heal"

Hawaii governor calls on people to visit
Hawaii governor calls on people to visit West Maui when it reopens in October 05:10

In the aftermath of the deadly wildfires that ravaged Maui, Hawaii, leaving nearly 100 people confirmed dead, Gov. Josh Green is calling on visitors to return to West Maui once it reopens on October 8. The part of the island which includes the historic town Lahaina was devastated by the fires. 

"You will be helping our people heal," Green told "CBS Mornings" on Tuesday.

"After October 8, if you could come to Hawaii and really help fortify us, because it's been a very tough time," he added.

Ninety-seven people were confirmed to have died in the Maui wildfires — a drop from an earlier death toll of 115. 

Green said it wasn't until Department of Defense scientists and physical anthropologists arrived in Maui to assist in recovery that officials were able to get a clearer picture of the casualties. 

"So a lot of it is, in the early phases, difficult to ascertain when you have a fire that's like 2,000 degrees Fahrenheit. It's just tough," Green said.

In hindsight, Green said he wishes things were done differently in the face of the fires, which reduced approximately 2,000 buildings, the majority of which were homes, to ashes.

When asked by "CBS Mornings" co-host Tony Dokoupil if it was a mistake not to use available funds to prepare for wildfires, Green said, "In retrospect, of course. We wish everything could have been done differently."

"Right now, people have been investing in renewable energy instead of some of the protections that might have saved people," he said. "These are all kind of Monday morning quarterback-type issues. Right now, we're just heartsick because we lost 97 of our loved ones."

Green is in New York City this to discuss climate change at the United Nations. He believes a "big part" of the fire was due to the role of climate change in the disaster.

He said a "fast and furious" fire, fueled by hurricane-force winds, took just 17 minutes to tear through Lahaina.

"I'm here in New York to tell the world: we're no longer just anticipating the impact of climate change and wildfires and how they can take our people out. We are enduring it in real-time," he said. 

Green said that between 1953 and 2003, Hawaii faced six fire emergencies, but in August this year alone, the state witnessed six fire emergencies.

"For anyone who doubts that climate change is a part of this, they're not being honest," Green said.

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