Puna residents air concerns over housing, overnight curfews amid ongoing eruptions

Updated: May. 29, 2018 at 10:57 PM HST
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PUNA, BIG ISLAND (HawaiiNewsNow) - As displaced lower Puna residents begin week four of volcanic activity on the Big Island, several have begun to express concerns over what their immediate futures will look like.

At a community meeting at Pahoa High School on Tuesday night, several residents and state officials drew attention to some of the problems they've faced since eruptions began. One of the first big topics of the night had to do with finding long-term housing solutions.

Hundreds of evacuees have been shacking up in shelters, tents and parking lots as lava activity has kept them from entering their homes.

Sen. Kai Kahele suggested that a possible solution to the problem may be found by tapping into emergency resources. Kahele said at the meeting that Gov. David Ige has the authority to open state land and fast-track basic housing units for evacuees.

"People have nowhere to go," said Sen. Kai Kahele at the community meeting. "We need to transition out of the red cross shelter, out of gymnasium of the parking lot."

Residents in lava-affected areas are also petitioning that the state lift strict overnight curfews.

Curfews currently dictate that residents must be back on the property by 6 p.m., or they will be blocked out by authorities. Several community members have shared stories of being a few minutes late because of an obligation, and having to sleep in their cars as a consequence.

Andy Andrews, a resident in the area, says lifting the curfew would incur no extra costs to the state since guards are already stationed at checkpoints around the clock.

"We're asking for a little compassion," Andrews said. "A little understanding."

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