Amazon.com founder Jeff Bezos and fiancee Lauren Sanchez said they will give $100 million toward restoration efforts in Maui after deadly wildfires devastated the Hawaiian island.
Sanchez said in an Instagram post they are “heartbroken” by the recent events in Maui and are creating a fund to “help Maui get back on its feet now and over the coming years.” Bezos, who has a net worth of $163 billion according to the Bloomberg Billionaires Index, owns an estate on La Perouse Bay at the southern tip of the island.
“The immediate needs are important, and so is the longer term rebuilding that will have to happen — even after much of the attention has subsided,” said Sanchez, a helicopter pilot and founder of Black Ops Aviation.
The rapidly spreading fires in the historic town of Lahaina on Maui have killed at least 55 people, a number that officials say is expected to rise as roughly 1,000 more remain unaccounted for and crews continue to search through the damage. Accuweather Inc. said its early estimates of the economic toll range between $8 billion and $10 billion.
President Joe Biden declared a major disaster in the island, which allows federal funds to be used to assist recovery efforts. The Federal Emergency Management Agency is looking at short-term housing for Lahaina, according to Anne Bink, associate administrator of response and recovery, and the agency’s search effort remains underway.