Pahoa property owner's berm raises legal concerns, worries neighbors

Pahoa property owners berm raises legal concerns, worries neighbors
Published: Oct. 29, 2014 at 9:36 PM HST|Updated: Oct. 30, 2014 at 2:54 PM HST
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PAHOA, BIG ISLAND (HawaiiNewsNow) - As the Puna lava flow advances closer and closer to the homes here along Pahoa Village Road, most residents can do nothing more than watch and wait - wondering what direction it will take and when it will pass through.

But one property owner is taking matters into his own hands - by building an estimated 7 foot tall berm and digging a 20 foot-wide ditch around his lot. The choice has surprised and saddened some neighbors who believe the attempts to save his home may come at the cost of others.

Most did not want to go on camera. This is a tight knit community that resembles more of an extended family than anything else -- but many of them expressed to me their concerns the berm will divert the lava flow to homes outside the steepest path of descent line it appeared to be heading down.

The question of whether government officials will attempt to divert the flow has come up consistently but officials have maintained from the beginning that historically those efforts have not proven successful in Hawai'i. Furthermore, in addition to their desire to be culturally sensitive -- officials say any attempt to redirect the flow could pose serious liability issues if it inadvertently impacted another community.

Residents say, wherever you believe in Mother Nature or Pele or science, the flow will run its course. They're praying they'll be spared, but it's a complicated wish because they don't want any of their neighbors to be hit instead.

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