Tuesday | April 21, 2015
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‘It’s happening now’: Helppuna.com offering Puna residents in lava’s path way to find refuge for their animals

While Hawaii County Civil Defense announced its plans to give homeowners at least five days notice should evacuation be necessary because of the June 27 lava flow, that might not leave much time for residents looking to relocate large numbers of animals.

“This is a big agricultural area. People have horses, sheep, goats, chickens and more, and they need help with evacuating,” said Sydney Singer, director of The Good Shepherd Foundation, an area nonprofit dedicated to protecting animals, the environment and human health. “People are thinking ahead.

“We were at Miranda’s Country Store (for feed and farm supplies) and we heard someone saying they were looking to evacuate 60 head of cattle. Others are looking for places for goats and sheep. It’s happening now.”

On Monday, Singer launched a new website, helppuna.com, a free, online classified ad system that helps pair animal owners with people elsewhere on the island who are willing to provide space for animals, or equipment to aid in their movement.

“We’re helping people find places of refuge around the island,” he said. “(The site) is a place where people can meet and come to arrangements.”

Stephanie Kleiman, a resident of Kaohe Homesteads, which is currently within about a mile of the lava flow, said Tuesday she was planning to move six or seven horses from her property by Thursday. While it remains to be seen whether the lava will actually encroach on the neighborhood, she said she and her animals already have been impacted.

“Right now, my concern is the emissions,” she said. “I got very sick (Sunday night), with a severe migraine. I couldn’t breathe. … And my horses are having eye issues, runny eyes.”

Kleiman has a two-horse trailer, but said she’s still looking for a large truck she could borrow or trade her own truck for.

She said she had so far been quite lucky as she searched for a pasture for her animals.

“It’s been amazing,” she said. “I’m an outgoing person, and I put something up on Facebook a week or so ago that I needed to relocate my animals, and I’ve been really touched by the amount of people who have come through with options for me.”

Kleiman said that while she found a good pasture spot north of Hilo, she’d like to find a nearby place to live, or a small cabin on pasture property, or somewhere she can move her own 10-foot-by-12-foot cabin, so she can live close to her animals.

“I haven’t really found my optimum yet. I’ve gotten close. I also have my four dogs … and an outside cat. … Everybody’s really well behaved. I like to take care of my animals,” she said. “I want to live close to them.”

Meanwhile, Jason Moniz, a veterinarian with the state Department of Agriculture, is currently working to help area residents with livestock relocations, said Civil Defense Administrator Darryl Oliveira.

“He is working with the USDA, the parks department and DOPA on finding paddocks, pastures and accomodations for different livestock,” he said. “We’ve asked (the public) to be as proactive as possible because they don’t want to be caught at the last minute.

“They’ve been very responsive and reactive to the info we’ve shared with them.”

Attempts to contact Moniz for comment were unsuccessful as of press time Tuesday.

As area residents continue to work out their evacuation plans, Civil Defense officials and scientists with the Hawaiian Volcano Observatory are keeping a close eye on the lava emanating from the flank of Pu‘u ‘O‘o on Kilauea’s East Rift Zone.

Oliveira said that during a morning overflight of the flow Tuesday, he noticed that steam rising from a large crack in the ground had moved another 100 yards or so to the northeast, indicating the lava has continued its subterranean movement toward inhabited areas near Pahoa.

“There was very little surface activity, but there appeared to be subsurface activity,” he said. “The plume has moved an additional 100 yards further downslope. It is still not an imminent threat though.”

Oliveira added that his office recently received information that some tour operators might have been offering tours out to the lava, which is currently in a restricted area.

“We’re concerned about that, and we’ve shared this with police,” he said. “This is a restricted area. It’s not safe to be out there. You can’t get close enough to see anything, and people are driving through the Kaohe subdivision as people who live there are trying to make their plans.

“We’re asking the community to stay out. It’s dangerous, and it will infringe on the activities and lifestyle of the people in the subdivision.”

For more information, visit http://hvo.wr.usgs.gov/activity/kilaueastatus.php

Email Colin M. Stewart at cstewart@hawaiitribune-herald.com.

 

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