An evacuee returns to his home for the first time — and then all he's lost sinks in

PUNA, BIG ISLAND (HawaiiNewsNow) - John Moylan is one of scores of Leilani Estates residents who was able to return home Monday to gather more belongings before leaving the community again.

"We came to get the rest of our stuff. We tried to come in yesterday and they wouldn't allow us in, but today they said enter at your own risk, so here we are," Moylan said.

Residents in the area were told for the first time on Sunday that they could return home to grab medications and check on pets from 7 a.m. to 6 p.m. daily, if conditions permit entry.

Access opened again Monday, and officials said they'd continue to let residents in — as long as it was safe to do so.

Moyland said that he and his family were one of the first ones out the door and on the road after the emergency evacuation was issued on Thursday, when the first fissure opened up.

"It just started spewing ... people could hear it," Moylan said. "The neighbors could hear and we're one of the first ones to get out of Leilani. We just took off. There wasn't any traffic."

Moylan is one of 1,700 Leilani Estates residents displaced by the destructive eruptions that have continued to pop up in the Puna neighborhood.

He said seeing his parts of his community covered in lava was surreal.

"I've kept very busy so I wasn't able to dwell upon how much I lost," Moylan said. "Until last night because actually seeing it happen is different from already claiming it's done, you know?"

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