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Legislator Surveys Impacts of Kīlauea Eruption

July 3, 2018, 9:51 AM HST
* Updated July 4, 6:56 AM
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Rep. Joy San Buenaventura surveying the farmland impacted by lava from Fissure 8 on June 30, 2018. PC: Crystal Richard

State Rep. Joy San Buenaventura surveyed portions of Leilani Estates, the Y-intersection and Kopoho farmland over the weekend, June 30 and July 1, 2018.

Rep. Joy San Buenaventura on Luana Street in Leilain Estates looking at Fissure 8 on July 1, 2018. PC: Crystal Richard

Rep. San Buenaventura was escorted to Moku Street, Leilani Avenue, Kahukai and Luana Streets, the Leilani Estates Community Center and the Y-intersection at Pohoiki-Kapoho by the Hawai‘i National Guard and members of the media on Sunday, July 1, to survey damage resulting from the ongoing Kīlauea eruption in the Lower East Rift Zone.

State Legislator Joy San Buenaventura with Fissure 8 in the background on Pohoiki Road on July 1, 2018. PC: Crystal Richard

“I wanted to see what my constituents are facing,” said the legislator.

She said she also wanted to assess the viability of their desire to go back to live in their homes east of Pomakai.

Rep. Joy San Buenaventura and papaya farmers surveying the area where lava is now flowing, June 30, 2018. PC: Crystal Richard

After touring Leilani Estates, she said, “I think there should be some kind of leeway. There seems to me their houses are OK. If they are sufficiently warned and have SO2 monitors, they should be able to return to their homes, because it is difficult to live in a shelter for two months with no end in sight.”

Leilani Estates playground on Moku Street seen in the glow of Fissure 8 on July 1, 2018 at 7:27 p.m. PC: Crystal Richard

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Residents whose homes are damaged, uninhabitable or inaccessible may be eligible for temporary housing assistance, depending on their circumstances. They are being encouraged to register with FEMA.

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“Even in a mandatory evacuation area, FEMA has been known to deny if the house is considered habitable,” said San Buenaventura.

Fissure 22 glowing on the left; Fissure 8 glowing and the plume seen from Leilani Estates Community Center on July 1, 2018. PC: Crystal Richard

“This event is going on too long, and though it doesn’t look like it’s going to end, two months in a shelter is too long,” stated Rep. San Buenaventura. “It is mentally draining. It is being in this limbo for a long time.”

Channelized lava flow just above where Four Corners once was. June 30, 2018. PC: Crystal Richard

“There are 20 million issues—for instance, the Pomaikai people want to move back in; the Hawaiian sanctuary people want the check point moved; Kalapana doesn’t want any curfew,” explained Rep. San Buenaventura.

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“There are multiple issues that you’re not aware of,” she explained.

The channelized flow from Fissure 8 on June 30, 2018. PC: Crystal Richard

She used the plight of Kapoho’s papaya farmers and acid rain as an example.

After the Future of Puna town meeting on June 30, Rep. San Buenaventura surveyed the situation in Kapoho.

Papaya farmers off Noni Farms Road are still harvesting fruit amidst the eruption and lava flows that back up to their properties. June 30, 2018. PC: Scott Cate

The hour-long ride to the papaya farmer’s land traveled through one checkpoint and several gates on multiple properties. The roads have been cut off and this—the long way—was the only way in.

County workers cutting trees on Railroad Avenue in Lower Puna on June 30, 2018. PC: Crystal Richard

The property owners told Big Island Now that the county had been working on Railroad Avenue for two days.

Freshly laid cinder on Railroad Avenue in Kapoho on June 30, 2018. PC: Scott Cate

The farmers said Railroad will help because the trip is currently an inconvenience.

The farm currently grows papayas, banana, soursop, oranges, macadamia and more. The papaya fields are now covered by lava and directly adjacent to a river of lava. The owners of this property are still harvesting fruit but no longer live on the property.

The farmer acknowledged that only time will tell if this flow will take his 50-acre farm.

VIDEO: The small plume from Fissure 22 is seen just to the left of Fissure 8’s large plume. Panning to the left, the ocean entry plume of laze and the flat area of Kapoho can be seen. June 30, 2018, at 6:21 p.m. VC: Crystal Richard

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