Red Cross shelters still home to dozens of lava evacuees over 2 months later

Updated: Jul. 22, 2018 at 1:30 PM HST
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PUNA, HAWAII (HawaiiNewsNow) - When lava broke through the surface in Puna on May 3, many residents in Leilani Estates packed up their entire lives into a vehicle and left — not knowing if they'd ever be able to return.

More than two months later, dozens of those families remain in shelters as the rebuilding and relocating process inches along.

According to the American Red Cross, shelters for lava evacuees are still open in Pahoa and Keeau.

As of July 19, Red Cross officials said 169 people total were still residing at the shelters.

At the Pahoa location, 67 people were counted inside with another 71 living outside in makeshift shelters.

In Keeau, the shelter population was smaller with 19 people counted inside and 12 outside.

Two months ago, one shelter reportedly was home to over 300 people inside and outside — a testament to how much the housing situation has improved.

Big Island government agencies have been thinking about ways to transition those into long-term housing. Meanwhile, a handful have moved into tiny homes built quickly, without the assistance of county, state or even federal help.

When the eruptions started, Big Island Mayor Harry Kim previously said shelters would be kept open for evacuees as long as it was needed.

And in light of a recent report from the USGS, that could be a long time to come.

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