Petra Wiesenbauer: 'You let go of everything and you start fresh. I’m ready'

Petra Wiesenbauer: 'You let go of everything and you start fresh. I’m ready'

PAHOA, BIG ISLAND (HawaiiNewsNow) - Petra Wiesenbauer's house was more than just the place where she and her two children lived.

It was also where she operated her own bed and breakfast business for 18 years, called Hale Moana.

Come December, Wiesenbauer would have been in Leilani Estates for 20 years. But that's not possible anymore.

Her home — her livelihood — are gone.

Wiesenbauer had been going to her house to retrieve things when she heard several of her friends had lost their homes.

"I really didn't have much hope for our house," she said.

Family valuables, as well as bed and breakfast supplies, were a priority for Wiesenbauer as she hauled things away from the lava's path. She had a feeling that time was running out.

The last big thing she recovered from the house was her daughter's piano.

She was at Pu'uhonua o Puna, a community-led supply and information hub for people displaced by the eruption, when her house burned. Even as her worst fear became reality, Weisenbauer says the people around her gave her comfort.

"It was amazing how they just carried me at the time," she said.

"It was really tough to realize, even though I was prepared that this was going to come. But then when it came it was just unbelievable."

The next morning, when she returned to her home, it was still burning.

Twenty years of love and memories were gone.

"There's just a metal roof and basically a pile of rubble," she said.

But Weisenbauer also saw beauty in the devastation. Lava had covered only about half of her yard. The other half was untouched.

And as difficult as losing her home was, she said it offered her a fresh start — an instant transition.

Earlier this year, she completed a master's degree in marriage and family therapy. And she'd often puzzled to work out how she'd transition away from her bed and breakfast business.

"It was kind of taken out of my hands and Pele decided we're going to do this real quick, you know, from one second to the next, no transition," she said. "You let go of everything and you start all fresh, and I'm ready."

This profile is part of our digital series, "Pele's Path: People of Puna." 

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