A very different Mother's Day: Moms evacuated in Puna grateful for family, community

(Image: Daryl Lee)
(Image: Daryl Lee)
(Image: Daryl Lee)
(Image: Daryl Lee)

PUNA, BIG ISLAND (HawaiiNewsNow) - Robbie McGrath misses her beautiful, two-acre property in Leilani Estates.

These days, her and her family are living in a pop-up tent in an evacuation shelter. It's where they've been since eruptions started nearly two weeks ago in lower Puna.

"It's a little difficult at times, I'm trying to keep in a place of love and being positive," said McGrath. "It's a little heartbreaking to see so many people displaced and children from the school where I work."

Something that is keeping McGrath's spirits up is support from the community.

And that was on display Sunday during a special Mother's Day get-together for displaced Puna moms and their families.

"It's just such a wonderful thing to see the community come together," McGrath said.

The Mother's Day celebration put on by the Red Cross of Hawaii shelter in Pahoa included live music, food and mom-friendly fanfare for the 250 attendees.

Wilhemina Kamalama-De Souza, who has several hanai children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren with her partner, feels that the current crisis has given her the unique opportunity to be surrounded by family.

"Today is a very special day for me ... being here at the shelter at the center has kind of helped us to be together," De Souza said. "Being with them today has made this easier for us, if (the evacuation) didn't happen, we would have been all separated."

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