Mom, son with disabilities face daunting challenge of fleeing advancing lava

Janus Garramone says she cried when she left her home of 40 years for what may be the last time. (Image: Hawaii News Now)
Janus Garramone says she cried when she left her home of 40 years for what may be the last time. (Image: Hawaii News Now)

PAHOA, BIG ISLAND (HawaiiNewsNow) - The Big Island is working with a nonprofit to move 11 tiny, temporary structures onto a 14-acre site at the Sacred Heart Church in Pahoa.

It's the latest effort to look for solutions to a growing housing crisis in lower Puna, where thousands have had to flee their homes amid ongoing eruptions.

Many of these lava evacuees are couch surfing or staying at emergency shelters. But for one teenage boy, that's impossible.

His medical needs are making a challenging situation even more difficult.

Like other evacuees long-time Kapoho resident Janus Garramone and her 17-year-old son, Ravi, have been forced to move — an upheaval in their lives, which has been as unpredictable as the lava flow.

Ravi has a rare medical condition that leaves him immobile so he needs constant care. He also has a brittle bone disease and has suffered hundreds of fractures.

After fleeing their Kapoho home because of approaching lava, they had to evacuate the place they were staying at in Pahoa because the poor air quality made Ravi's condition worse.

"The level of moving with the disability issues is just beyond," said Janus Garramone.

For now, the Garramones are living for free in a Hawaiian Paradise Park vacation rental. But Garramone doesn't know how she'll find $9,000 to pay for the next six months of rent and she fears the worst for her treasured home of 40 years.

"I didn't have the time to have my own breakdown, but that happened when I went to my home yesterday and thought I may never come back, I'm gonna take what I can," she said.

Ravi has nine caregivers, and some have evacuated their own homes. But through it all, they say Ravi is an inspiration because of his light-hearted spirit.

"There's been a lot of blessings. There's been a lot of magic, a lot of angels that have come through to bless everybody up," said caregiver Niki Morris

A GoFundMe has been set up to assist the family.

This story may be updated.

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