Mayor: Homes lost to lava could be as many as 700

  • U.S. Geological Survey photo This photo of fissure No. 8, the only fissure in the lower East Rift Zone still actively producing lava, was taken Sunday.

Mayor Harry Kim said the number of houses destroyed by lava from Kilauea volcano is at least 600 and could be as high as 700, according to Janet Snyder, a spokeswoman for Kim.

Kim, according to Snyder, told emergency personnel at Civil Defense headquarters Monday the approximately 410 people in emergency shelters “are never going back to their homes.”

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“They have no place to go back home,” Snyder quoted Kim as saying. “We made a decision last week to work with federal, state, county and private entities to develop a whole new community to give people some hope for tomorrow.

“We represent that hope.”

Kim is scheduled to meet with the media this afternoon. The conference will also include Bob Fenton, Region 9 administrator for Federal Emergency Management Agency. Fenton, who oversees California, Nevada, Arizona, Hawaii and the Pacific Islands, has Hawaii ties.

Snyder said Fenton has spoken with White House officials about the situation facing lower Puna.

“We’re here to support you, now and in the long-term,” Snyder quoted Fenton has saying.

“He did admit that FEMA’s programs are not made for this kind of situation,” Snyder said. She said Fenton added other federal agencies would have to be brought in to help those displaced by lava.

Halema‘uma‘u had another explosion at about 4 a.m. that was measured at magnitude-5.4.

“I have a lousy feeling that people in Volcano are going to be involved in this, too,” Kim said, according to Snyder. She said Kim “is getting together today with people to develop a community for these people.”

“We have to be successful, because we’re all they’ve got,” Snyder quoted Kim as saying.

The eruption itself is still at full strength along the lower East Rift Zone with fountains between 150-130 feet high from fissure No. 8.

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“Harry noted that fissure 8 is right where Luana Street used to be,” Snyder said.

Email John Burnett at jburnett@hawaiitribune-herald.com.

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