Advertisement

She didn't have room in her house for lava evacuees, so she opened up her farm

Updated: Jun. 19, 2018 at 6:39 PM HST
Email This Link
Share on Pinterest
Share on LinkedIn

WAIMEA, BIG ISLAND (HawaiiNewsNow) - Dayna Kaia didn't have room inside her home to take any lava evacuees in, but what she did have was land.

Thanks to her ingenuity — and big heart — she's now providing shelter to close to a dozen lava evacuees.

"Most people wouldn't do what she did," said evacuee Corey King. "Most people wouldn't give up an acre of land. And their time and effort to make sure that you're safe and secure."

It's been 32 days since Kilauea's toxic fumes forced King and his family from their home in lower Puna. "I'm kind of in a survival mode," said King.

In a matter of days he, his girlfriend and their three children went from staying in a hotel to camping in a park. Now, they're living on Kaia's farm in Waimea.

"This tent is my tent," said King's girlfriend, Melissa Ekstrom. "We have a little sitting area here."

Kaia is among hundreds on the Big Island who are demonstrating the incredible kindness of strangers. As the eruptions continue, residents are opening up their homes and donating whatever they can to help the displaced.

But Kaia's story is also on another scale.

When Kaia heard evacuees were being forced to leave nearby Spencer Beach Park, she says she knew what she had to do and began transforming this pasture into a place of refuge.

She put in a makeshift kitchen with a sink and a propane stove.

"It's simple. The counters are just pallets put together, you know?" Kaia said.

Through donations and help from neighbors there's also a 20-by-40-foot canopy protecting several tents, a fully-stocked pantry, a shower hooked up to hot water and two Porta-potties.

"I couldn't have done it by myself. There's just no way," said Kaia. "We all pulled together to make this happen for them and they are so appreciative."

Right now, there are 10 people staying on the farm. Four are children. Another family is expected to arrive this week.

"We have restaurant owners here, we got an RN, we got a teacher in the house," said Kaia.

Unsure if they'll ever be able to return home, Ekstrom says her family's decided it's time to move on.

"We just want to start fresh and not wait anymore and get back to some normalcy as soon as possible," said Ekstrom.

She says she's grateful for the peace of mind the farm provides while they work to secure something permanent.

"I am very thankful and full of gratitude to have a safe place," said Ekstrom.

Kaia says her guests are welcome to stay as long as they need to.

"As long as it takes for them to get where they need to be," said Kaia.

In the meantime, she says she could use more tarps and another 20-by-40-foot canopy, along with food and water. To donate, send an email here.

This story will be updated.

Copyright 2018 Hawaii News Now. All rights reserved.