As the destruction from the Maui wildfires is assessed, and investigations unfold, one particular Hawaii state official faces increased scrutiny over what many believe to be a critical mistake that cost countless lives.
M. Kaleo Manuel, who served as deputy director of the Hawaii Commission on Water Resource Management but was recently "reassigned" to a different job, is facing intense backlash from critics in Hawaii and around the world, and his ties to former President Barack Obama have raised even more questions.
Manuel is accused of delaying the release of a critical water source to firefighters that critics argue would have made a drastic difference in the outcome of the death and devastation.
The Western Journal noted:
West Maui Land Company sought release of the water around 1 p.m. August 8 during the deadly wildfire, but Manuel declined the request saying he would have to check with local farmers beforehand.
He finally authorized the release at 6 p.m. that evening, according to the company, the Star Advertiser reported.
"We watched the devastation around us without the ability to help," the West Maui Land Company wrote in an Aug. 10 letter. "We anxiously awaited the morning knowing that we could have made more water available to MFD if our request had been immediately approved."
Notably, the Department of Land and Natural Resources (DLNR) defended Manuel, urging the public not to judge his actions "until all the facts are known."
The DLNR states on its website that Manuel was "one of 200 inaugural Obama Leaders representing the Asia-Pacific region with the Obama Foundation."
It was also noted that Manuel has made bizarre, ultra-woke statements in the past about water as a resource and how it should be treated.
REPORT: M. Kaleo Manuel, who was responsible for water management during the Maui fires, waited five hours to release water to residents who were burned alive.
During a debate last year, Manuel said water usage should be based on 'equity.'
Wokeism literally costs lives.
— Collin Rugg (@CollinRugg) August 19, 2023
"We’ve become used to looking at water as something that we use, and not something that we revere. It’s a shift in value set. We can reconnect to that traditional value set," Manuel said at the time.
Social media users blasted Manuel for what seems to many to be a deadly case of dropping the ball.
"This is horrific he literally let people die. He should be held accountable for that," one X user wrote.
Another X user wrote, "He should be arrested. Think of all those children let out of school and went home. Manuel is a murderer."
Multiple investigations have been opened on all levels as a result of the devastating fire that killed over 100 people and damaged thousands of buildings and roads.