Legislator Surveys Impacts of Kīlauea Eruption
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. 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.
“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.
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.”
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.
“Even in a mandatory evacuation area, FEMA has been known to deny if the house is considered habitable,” said San Buenaventura.
“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.”
“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.
“There are multiple issues that you’re not aware of,” she explained.
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.
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.
The property owners told Big Island Now that the county had been working on Railroad Avenue for two days.
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