May 17, 2018 / 15:45 pm
With ongoing volcanic activity continuing to threaten the area surrounding Hawaii’s Kilauea volcano, local Catholics are offering a helping hand to those who have been evacuated.
Fr. Ernest Juarez Jr. of Sacred Heart Parish in Pahoa said that the parish has “opened its doors to be a centralized location for the different government agencies, and for the [affected] public to come and get information, permission cards to enter the affected area, and other kinds of assistance.”
The parish said in a statement this week that it has worked “to contact members of the parish who live in affected neighborhoods to find out how we can help.”
Relief efforts have included sign-up sheets to offer temporary rooms or houses for those who have been evacuated, as well as transportation and assistance with other personal needs. The parish has been collecting pillows and blankets, preparing meals for distribution at the food pantry, and offering to talk and pray with those staying in a shelter.
“The main needs are housing, transportation, and money,” Fr. Juarez told CNA.
Blankets, toiletries, and tents are also needed. Food has been abundant, thanks to the generosity of donors, he said.
In the early hours of May 17, the Kilauea volcano on Hawaii’s Big Island erupted for the second time in two weeks, shooting a plume of ash and smoke 12,000 feet into the air. The previous eruption, which took place May 3, was followed by earthquakes and the emergence of 21 fissures, some in residential neighborhoods. More than 117 acres of the island have been covered by lava.
According to the Hawaii County Civil Defense Agency, Kilauea has destroyed 36 structures, mostly homes, since the lava began spewing. The Hawaiian Volcano Observatory also issued a hazardous fumes warning due to elevated levels of sulfur dioxide in the air.