Kilauea forced them from their homes. Now, lava evacuees prepare for the effects of Hurricane Hector

Updated: Aug. 6, 2018 at 6:27 PM HST
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PAHOA, BIG ISLAND (HawaiiNewsNow) - Stacy Welch and her daughter, both Leilani Estates residents, evacuated to the emergency shelter in Pahoa in early May, when the first fissures opened.

They spent Monday preparing for Hurricane Hector.

"We're getting ready," said Welch, filling up large water jugs as she spoke. "I have three vehicles I have to move. I want to make sure those are on high ground, full of gas and parked, ready to go, in case we do have to evacuate for any reason."

The women have kept their goose, rabbit, and dogs at the shelter with them for the past several months, but are trying to get someone to watch them until the effects of the storm have passed.

Hector is expected to move south of the Big Island, but heavy rain and strong winds are expected.

Welch says most people at the Pahoa shelter do not live inside the facility. Instead, she says, most of them live in tents or other temporary structures in the parking lot — structures that likely won't hold up in tropical storm conditions.

"We have more tents outside than cots inside," she says. "Somebody said 'where are people in tents going to go?' And I half halfheartedly said, 'in the air,' because we really don't have places to go and we're not there by choice."

Welch says Hawaii County Civil Defense has not provided them with details on an alternate site. Officials with the agency say there is a plan for lava evacuees in shelters, but that plan will not be announced until there is an evacuation order due to Hector.

Welch is not happy about that, saying she would like to know ahead of time, should her cell phone not work or the battery dies and she doesn't get the warnings.

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