Mayor tells residents in lava-ravaged lower Puna: We'll get through this
PAHOA, BIG ISLAND (HawaiiNewsNow) - We will get through this. Together.
That was Big Island Mayor Harry Kim's message on Tuesday night to hundreds of Puna residents impacted by ongoing volcanic eruptions.
Nearly four weeks after the first fissure opened in Leilani Estates, the eruptions show no sign of stopping. In fact, they're more vigorous than ever, claiming main thoroughfares, gobbling up homes and forcing more evacuations.
So far, the lava has claimed at least 112 structures in lower Puna, including 71 homes.
At the meeting Tuesday, Kim tried to console a community facing a disaster that's upended their lives — and whose end is nowhere in sight.
"We will be alright," Kim said, speaking in the cadence of a minister at times as he addressed a crowded cafeteria at Pahoa High
"But we need to join hands to be all right and help each other. Nature is taking its course and this is our job. Our job is to recognize that. Stay out of harm's way and help each other through this adjustment."
During his address, Kim also said the county will continue to allow residents back to their homes in evacuation zones as long as it's safe to do so.
And, he added, watching so many struggle in recent weeks as lava continues to claim homes has been tough.
"You're going through a very, very difficult time," he said. "What is happening in lower Puna is something that no one alive has ever experienced."
This story will be updated.
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