The 2019 Puna Lava Flow

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One year ago, the Puna lava flow destroyed homes, changed lives, and forever reshaped the region. And even now local families are still dealing with the aftermath of the lava flow. The Salvation Army personnel on Hawaii Island are continuing to provide help and support as needed to those affected, but we need your help. Please click below to donate to help these families finally get their lives back.

The Salvation Army uses one-hundred percent of all collected donations designated 'disaster relief' in support of disaster operations. If disaster donations exceed identified needs, excess funds will be restricted to support future disaster services.

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We combat natural disaster with acts of God

With the help of compassionate donors and volunteers, The Salvation Army met basic human needs, supported local businesses that would have otherwise been shuttered, ensured care and attention for keiki and kupuna — and offered hope when it mattered most.

Below are just a few ways we met the greatest needs for those who were affected by last year's lava flow. Mahalo for helping us combat an extraordinary disaster with extraordinary acts of kindness.

You helped us support local businesses affected by the Puna Lava Flow flow

When the eruptions started, Matt Purvis thought first about all the families in danger, those losing their homes and fearing for their lives. He knew Tin Shack Bakery, his small shop tucked away in Puna, might be impacted too.

Purvis knew The Salvation Army Emergency Disaster Service (EDS) would be there, feeding those displaced by the lava. What he didn’t know was that EDS would also lend him a helping hand, turning to Purvis and other local businesses to purchase food and supplies for those in need. “Right away, we lost a ton of business, like 70 percent,” Purvis says, “but The Salvation Army helped boost sales and allow us to keep our employees on, some of whom are evacuees.”

Victor Leonardi, EDS coordinator in Puna, says supporting local business is a key element of their strategy. “We’ve sustained meal service in the shelters by purchasing right here in the local communities,” he says. “It just makes sense to support local businesses.”

“It definitely makes a big difference,” Purvis says, “The Salvation Army helped us stay level during the most difficult time for our business.”

Since May 9, The Salvation Army Emergency Disaster Service has coordinated three meals a day food service in the Puna District shelters. It’s also distributed essential supplies including mosquito repellent, food boxes, water, and hygiene kits.

You helped us serve over 61,963 meals to those struggling through an unspeakable disaster

Aluina and her granddaughter Alicia hang tarps along the chain link fences of the Pahoa Community Center behind their beds to block out the sulfur dioxide gas in the air. Smoke and fumes forced them out of their homes and now they’re concerned about each breath they take.

“Alicia has asthma and the sulfur has already affected her,” says Aluina. “If it gets worse, we’ll have to find another place to stay. We worry if we’ll have our home to get back to.”

Like their neighbors, Alicia and Aluina have enough to worry about. After the volcanic eruptions poured lava into their community in Leilani Estates, they took what they could to the Pahoa Community Center, where Aluina works as a security guard. As a staff member and evacuee who is working and living at the shelter, she’s always on watch and looking out for the other residents.

She noticed a change after The Salvation Army arrived at the community center and coordinated volunteers to provide food for the shelter residents. “People were getting tired of the food here,” Aluina says. “Some people were getting sick, and others couldn’t eat because of dietary restrictions. Now that The Salvation Army is here to provide meals, the morale really went up. Everyone is happier with great food and great people around. It’s like a breath of fresh air!”

Aluina and Alicia think of the challenges they face in getting through this disaster, but they both keep smiles on their faces as they eat a full plate of rice, curry, salad, and fruit for dinner – taking everything in, one step at a time.

The next morning, Aluina is up bright and early for breakfast served by Salvation Army volunteers. Then she takes Alicia to school, and comes back to greet her neighbors as she begins her patrol, knowing there will be lunch ready in a few short hours.

You helped us establish an emergency distribution center that served over 2,270 people

Del at Pahoa Shelter

Enjoying his plate of kalua pork and cabbage at the Pahoa Community Center, Del plays through the past two months like a silent movie in his head. He spent years as a volunteer for disaster relief organizations—nourishing his passion to help those in need. But now, after lava engulfed his home in Leilani Estates, he finds himself in a different position. “It’s come full circle,” says Del. “I’ve always been on the other side of this, signing up as a volunteer to help others get through the worst that happens. But now, the worst has happened to me and I’m the one being helped.”

After volcanic eruptions surged lava through Leilani Estates, destroying homes and displacing families, Del and many others found themselves in Pahoa’s the community shelters—where The Salvation Army is offering meals, hydration and emotional and spiritual care. Pushing around threads of pit-smoked pork and wilted cabbage on his plate, Del tries to piece together a plan to move forward—where to go, where to live, what to do.

“I’m not as nimble as I used to be,” he explains. “Being as old as I am, I have difficulty moving from place to place, so I’m here now, and I’m so happy that The Salvation Army is with us throughout the day to make sure we’re eating.”

He smiles and laughs. His positive attitude—the inspired outlook from a perpetual volunteer—helps uplift others in his same situation. “We’re seeing everyday people look out for each other,” Del says, “and bring food for others to eat—great food too! This kalua pig is as good, if not better, than anything else I’ve had. It’s amazing to have this at a shelter.”

Even in this time of crisis, Del continues to help his neighbors. He tells jokes to liven spirits and checks in on those around him. “Disasters have an interesting way of bringing people and organizations like The Salvation Army together, and bringing the best out of everyone to help push us forward,” Del explains. “I think that’s what we need most right now, and it’s something we can all do.”