The Community Responds to the Leilani Estates Eruption

As of Tuesday, May 15, twenty fissures in Leilani Estates and their associated lava flows had claimed twenty-seven homes and ten other structures. Amidst the uncertainty, Hawai`i County officials ordered over 2,000 people from their homes. Sulfur dioxide fumes have prevented some from even checking on their property when residents were allowed back into the area, and nobody knows if, when, or where a new lava outbreak could occur – or when this eruption will end.

East Hawai`i’s people, government, helping agencies, and faith  communities have all stepped forward to offer help. County Parks and Recreation staff and facilities have been employed for the first-line shelters, which now house over two hundred people in Pahoa and Kea`au. The local Red Cross has  assumed administration for the shelters, and the Salvation Army is providing hot meals. The Food Basket is coordinating non-perishable food and water collection, which is helping support evacuees now staying with friends and family.  Religious leaders from a wide spectrum of traditions have gathered to coordinate the response of the faith community.

Church of the Holy Cross has begun collecting non-perishable foods and bottled water, which will be directed through the Food Basket. Those interested in volunteering at the shelters need to go through the Red Cross, and complete their screening process (

We are also collecting financial gifts. The Board of Stewardship and Mission will consider the wide range of options as they emerge, so you may support the  efforts of a local agency, a project we initiate ourselves, or one we  engage in with other UCC churches (or other faith communities). 

One important thing to remember: These are our neighbors, and we are here for them today, tomorrow, and on into the future. When the eruption ends, others may forget. We will not.

Pastor Eric has spoken with the Rev. Brian Welsh of Kuhio Chapel, the Rev. Michael Warren of Kalapana Mau-nakea Congregational Church, Kahu Diane Hultmann of Puula UCC, and Kahu Clara Daog of Opihikao  Congregational Church. Some report member families displaced, and their people working together to house and support them. The two churches in Nanawale Estates and Opihikao have taken the precaution of moving their artifacts out of danger. The air quality, said Rev. Warren, is quite bad in Nanawale. He asked for prayers, particularly as magma movement raises the possibility of communities being cut off.

On Sunday, May 6th, as the eruption had begun, eight people attended at Opihikao church. They celebrated Holy Communion, and enjoyed a small pot-luck lunch. They do not know what the future holds, but Kahu Daog said simply: “The presence of the Lord was there.”

Categories Community, Events | Tags: | Posted on May 16, 2018

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