PAHOA, BIG ISLAND (HawaiiNewsNow) - Edward Grant was one of the first Kilauea lava evacuees to move in to the Sacred Heart Church micro-home village in Pahoa.
Grant, 70, picked unit 'Hope 6,' but he calls the structure his cabana, saying it feels like a vacation property.
"This is something else isn't it?" Grant says, amazed at what volunteers and service providers have been able to accomplish in just over a month using donated supplies and items. "No words, you know, it's incredible."
The micro units, which measure 10-feet by 12-feet, have electricity and provide privacy – something the evacuees haven't had in months. Grant says he left his home near Lava Tree State Park when the first fissures started opening up and sulfur dioxide started filling the air.
"We were getting gassed," Grant said.
Kuava Depoe considers her unit, Hope 9, a luxury space, too. The 77-year old, who suffers from back pain, also fled the lower Puna area and has been living in an evacuation shelter.
"It was heaven for awhile, but with those cots, they move and squeak and you gotta climb in and out of them," she says referring to the camping cots used as beds in the shelter. "If you've got a bad back, it's the last thing you want to sleep on."
She now has a bed of her own, and she's able to wash clothes. And it's not just kupuna receiving help: A father and his son, who is in a wheelchair, will also be moving in soon.
Volunteers say they're currently finishing up the Americans with Disabilities Act requirements for community showers and bathrooms. Until the structure is complete, a donated mobile hygiene trailer is providing the service.
"This is luxury. This is luxury," says Depoe.
Both Depoe and Grant have nice things to say about the shelter which has met all their needs, but they are excited to be in their own private space again.