'We're gonna get it done today': Volunteers put finishing touches on emergency shelters for evacuees
PAHOA, BIG ISLAND (HawaiiNewsNow) - Thousands of Big Island residents have been displaced by since ash explosions, eruptions and earthquakes have inundated neighborhoods, prompting state and county officials to issue mandatory evacuations.
While many opted to stay with friends, family or in a county-provided shelter, less-than optimal conditions have led residents to begin worrying about long term solutions to an ongoing problem.
Last Friday, a group of Big Island volunteers teamed up to begin prep work on a project to build 20 tiny homes that will give evacuees a private place to plan their next steps. And on Saturday, the group is nearly complete.
By the afternoon, volunteer workers, which included several men and women with construction backgrounds, already had roofs on the tops of micro shelters, which measure 10-feet by 12-feet with about 120 square feet of floor space.
The effort was made possible due to an emergency proclamation issued by Big Island Mayor Harry Kim.
"Some of us here have been directly affected by the lava, so we're happy to be here and give back to the community," said Dean Au, with Hawaii Carpenters Union.
The 20 micro shelters will fill an 8-acre plot of land behind Sacred Heart Church off Pahoa Village Road. Several community groups and businesses pitched in time, supplies and manpower, including Big Island Electrical Services, HPM Building Supply, and HOPE Services Hawaii, among others.
"(There is) a wide assortment of occupations from the national guard, the carpenters union, businesses and community volunteers, all of the contractors, it's just incredible," said Darryl Olivera, safety officer for HPM Building Supply.
Gilbert Aguinaldo, owner of Big Island Electrical Services, said that he has no doubt that all 20 micro shelters will be completed this weekend.
"I promise you, there is no excuse, we are going to put all these houses up today," Aguinaldo said. "And when I say we're gonna get it done today, we're gonna get it done It today."
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