Woman moving homes as Pele approaches

Many lower Puna residents and home owners are faced with two difficult choices as they wait to see how far the June 27 lava flow will go — pack up and leave or stick it out and hope for the best.

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Many lower Puna residents and home owners are faced with two difficult choices as they wait to see how far the June 27 lava flow will go — pack up and leave or stick it out and hope for the best.

For some, drastic times might call for drastic measures. Or, as Tamara Norrbom puts it, an audacious plan.

By the time lava reaches Highway 130, something that could happen within a few weeks, she expects to have packed up and moved two of her three homes in Nanawale Estates.

The homes, between 1,300 and 1,400 square feet, will be loaded on large trailers and slowly and carefully driven out of the neighborhood to Hawaiian Paradise Park, where Norrbom has bought two lots out of harm’s way and on the Hilo side of the lava flow.

“It’s going to be like a motor home,” she said. “Everything I got is just going to be battened down.”

The homes are expected to begin their journey Thursday night, and Norrbom plans to follow them closely behind.

“We’re going to take all of our plants,” she said. “We’re going to try to take a little of this over there. Just try to start again.”

Norrbom, who resides in Los Angeles and uses the homes as rentals and her own getaway from city life, began building in Nanawale Estates in the 1980s.

Picking up and moving two homes in one piece is a gamble. But, after seeing what happened in Kalapana and how long lava flowed from Pu‘u ‘O‘o to the south, doing nothing is also risky, she said.

“That’s when I said to myself, ‘This could just be the next 31-year flow,’” she said, after reading reports from geologists.

The third home she plans to keep in Nanawale Estates for now in case the neighborhood remains accessible.

So far, the audacious plan is proving plausible. Everything seems to be falling into place, Norrbom said, though getting the land was a challenge.

“Everything on Kaloli (Drive) was just gone, gone, gone,” she said, while snapping her fingers.

When attempting such an enormous effort, it helps to find people who have done it before.

Norrbom hired Makakoa Contracting, which moved the painted church in Kalapana away from the lava flow that claimed much of the community over two decades ago.

Shawn Faulstick, Makakoa Contracting partner, said the move should go smoothly. Power lines remain an issue, but an arch made out of PVC pipe will help raise them above the homes, he said.

The cost of relocating homes can start around $20,000 and “goes up from there,” Faulstick said.

Norrbom said she is receiving help from a family member to cover the cost, and estimates the higher land value in HPP will eventually offset the expense.

Faulstick said he has not been approached yet by anyone else to relocate homes. He expects more will if they become aware of the option and, of course, can cover the expense.

“The other side of it is they need a place to put it,” he said.

Faulstick said his company would make property it owns in HPP available to store homes for a fee if needed.

But he added people need to be certain this is what they want.

“They need to be serious,” Faulstick said. “This is a serious undertaking.

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“Once you start, we move and we don’t stop until it’s done.”

Email Tom Callis at tcallis@hawaiitribune- herald.com.

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