Man uses faith to accept lava flow's possible destruction to Pahoa home
PUNA, BIG ISLAND (HawaiiNewsNow) - It's a time of great uncertainty in Pahoa right now, but one man is finding comfort in his faith -- despite the fact his family home lies in the path of a lava flow and this isn't the first time.
The pictures may be yellowing with age, but for Alii Hauanio, the memories are vivid.
"It's so neat how memories just come back when you're looking at these photos -- remembering all the weekends that we spent down there camping and cleaning up the property, planting coconut trees and cutting the grass -- and then one day when my parents decided they were able to, we built a home," Hauanio described.
Hauanio's mother and father were papaya farmers. Their Kalapana beach home was a dream come true -- fueled by hard work and unwavering faith, but in 1991 a lava flow claimed their home.
"You could see it coming and so it was that time to prepare, yeah? For me, I was more amazed at how slow it moved. After it moved and passed you up, there's nothing there but pahoehoe. It's a different kind of devastation, I guess, it's not quick. It was slow," recalled Hauanio. "All the signs of what was prior is no more, it's gone."
Not once did Hauanio imagine his Pahoa home would be threatened.
"I never thought it would be this way. It was a shock to hear the news, especially right after the storm," Hauanio said, referring to Tropical Storm Iselle which had barreled through the lower Puna district -- leaving thousands without water and power for up to two weeks.
Right off Pahoa Village Road, it's the home Hauanio was raised in. Built in the early 1920s, it was once his grandfather's house.
"A lot of memories. A lot of family gatherings over here," Hauanio said with a grin.
He has started packing -- mostly his parents' memorabilia. Unlike his family's Kalapana home, he hopes to witness the lava pass through -- if and when it does.
"To see it, in actuality - I think it might bring closure to know that it's done and turn that page and we're starting another chapter," said Hauanio.
Four generations have helped write his ohana's story here, but Hauanio says he'll be ready when it's time.
"You know honestly, it's just material. I came into this world naked, I'm going out naked. I ain't taking this with me, but the memories I can take. And that's what's the most precious and that's what I can keep," Hauanio said.
Evacuations have not been ordered, but Hawaii County Civil Defense officials hand delivered notices over the weekend telling residents downslope to be ready by Tuesday. The projected impact zone is still along Pahoa Village Road between Apaa Street and Post Office Road. Officials have identified 50 to 60 structures in the area -- both homes and businesses. They say they have spoken directly to everyone who may be affected and 95 percent of the residents they spoke to reported having a place to go. They say only a handful indicated they may need to relocate to a shelter.
Red Cross Hawaii, in partnership with the county, has opened an emergency shelter at the Sure Foundation Puna. It's located at 16-1592 Pohaku Circle, just off of Highway 130 in Keaau.
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