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Hawaii eruption survivors say they want to return to homes

March 18, 2019

HILO, Hawaii (AP) — Survivors of the Kilauea eruption have said they want to return to their homes despite incomplete restoration work in the area.

Residents of the Puna district on the Big Island have begun moving back despite only partial access and restoration, the Hawaii Tribune-Herald reported Sunday.

The area was devastated by the May 2018 eruption of the Kilauea volcano that lasted months before lava flows cooled and created natural barriers across roads and other access points.

Authorities in Hawaii County have said a new path over the closest highway could take months to grade due to permitting and other requirements.

Puna residents inside one isolated pocket near Highway 132 said they use solar panel arrays, a water collection tank, and helicopter drops or hiking trips over the hardened flows for supplies.

“We gave up on them getting the road open,” said Michael Gornik, “and we started doing it.”

Gornik is back at his Polestar Gardens meditation center after losing his home to a brush fire sparked by a river of lava that flowed passed his property on its way to the ocean.

He said he is glad to be back, even if there is “a strange apocalyptic feel out here.”

“You can see the ocean from everywhere now,” Gornik said. “This is such a different place.”

Puna Geothermal Venture, a subsidiary of renewable energy company Ormat Technologies Inc., is working to provide access to the area through its site near Highway 132.

The company has scheduled a March 22 meeting to discuss details with residents.

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Information from: Hawaii Tribune-Herald, http://www.hawaiitribune-herald.com/

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