Impact of Kīlauea – Setting the Scene
I had the opportunity to spend three full days as a volunteer in the Puna District, located in the East Rift Zone of Kīlauea. This area was impacted by Kīlauea’s massive lava flow. It was humbling to see how the people are dealing with this catastrophe. On the Big Island of Hawaii, many residents who lost everything have no place else to go. Many are living in tents outside a middle school, or in makeshift homes on a neighbor’s property. One thing makes this natural disaster unlike others that we have seen in our country. These people whose homes and lives were impacted by the lava flow will never get to return “home.” Their homes are now under 30-50′ of lava.
Most of the displaced residents that came to the Pu’uhonua o Puna Rescue Center while I was there came for a hot meal, shower, and basic necessities such as water, toothpaste, and canned goods. In the last 8 weeks, all of these things that we take for granted have been taken away from them. While I was there I took in donated supplies, stocked shelves, served meals, and helped the local residents find whatever it was they needed. One gentleman, who was living out of his truck at the makeshift city, had tears in his eyes, when he found a frying pan that had been donated to Pu’uhonua o Puna. “It’s the exact one I had and have used for years. I meant to grab it when the notice to evacuate came in. Out of everything I left behind, I sure do miss that pan.”
The friendships I was able to build and the relationships I observed, was so rewarding. I had the opportunity to meet Ikaika Marzo, the 34-year-old Puna Native who started the rescue center. He was also instrumental in getting land donated to build tiny homes for the evacuees. I got to meet his family, who took me in with open hearts and arms. Everyone is a brother, sister, auntie or uncle. I felt like I had known the other local volunteers, whom I had met, for my entire life. Some of the volunteers were running the center 8-10 hours a day. They were doing this in addition to their full-time jobs. The commitment was amazing to see and be a part of. Getting to see how the people of this area ban together to take care of one another was so heartwarming and eye-opening. I cannot wait to go back.
How You Can Help
This event has changed everything for the people of the Puna District. Pele and Kīlauea have taken their homes, their livelihood and all of the places where they worshiped, worked and played. Their resilience is amazing and heartwarming. They do not see this as an end of what was, but as a beginning…”Pele cleaning house” is a phase I heard so many times. And with destruction comes rebirth for future generations on the Big Island.
Contact the Pu’uhonua o Puna Rescue Center – Facebook
Information on how to Donate – Here
Volunteer your time – Puna Lava Flow 2018
More information and resources Puna Lava Flow – Facebook