The Puna volcanic eruption began in people’s backyards on May 3rd. Over the next days and weeks more than 20 fissure opened and erupted. Rivers of lava spread across lower Puna claiming homes and eventually whole subdivisions. Hundreds of homes have been destroyed. Thousands of people have been displaced
Neighborhood Place of Puna is working with other non-profits to connect impacted individuals and families with assistance. In the first days of the eruption NPP staff worked at the shelter and the resource center. We helped with intake as individuals and families sought help. Later, we ran a call-center to follow-up and begin connecting people with resources. Now we are helping coordinate the disaster response efforts of our local agencies, non-profits, and faith community.
Housing is the biggest need, but all housing needs are not the same. There are Kupuna. There are large and small families. There are people with special health concerns. There are also lots of pets that need to be housed along with their owners.
In addition to housing, there are people who want to leave the Island to live with family elsewhere. Others have found housing but need help paying rent or replacing a little of what was lost in the rush to evacuate. Some, burdened with mortgages or the loss of a business, need help meeting basic needs.
The need can overwhelming at times. Hope can feel like a distant dream. Recovery, however, starts with little steps and everyone carrying a bit of the load. Neighborhood Place of Puna is doing what we can. We identify needs, process request for assistance, and make referrals. We also work very hard to prevent people from falling through bureaucratic cracks.
We don’t know when this current phase of the eruption will stop. Recovery will to take a long time. It will require the work of many individuals and organizations. No one person or agency can do everything. Puna is our community and Neighborhood Place of Puna is doing our bit to help. We are fortunate to work alongside an amazing group of non-profits, churches, and community leaders. Together we can offer Hope and Support to those who have lost everything. Together, we can help our community recover.
Paul Normann, Executive Director
How You Can Help:
You can donate to Neighborhood Place of Puna or to the Hawaii Community Foundation’s, Hawaii Island Volcano Recovery Fund. You can also find opportunities volunteer on the Interfaith Communities in Action site