(BIVN) – Following up on the previous video we published showing a joyous moment as lava-locked residents regained vehicular access to their homes following the 2018 eruption of Kīlauea, we present a longer look at Monday’s opening of Puna Geothermal Venture’s Pioneer Road.
“This is the first day of PGV’s driveway being available for our neighborhood residents to return home via vehicles,” said Mike Kaleikini, the senior director of Hawaiian affairs for Ormat, the PGV parent-company. “I think the feeling has been one of excitement.”
The temporary road to the kipuka traverses a portion of PGV’s land leased from Kapoho Land Partnership. It has been reported that 56 properties remain in the lava-locked kipuka.
Michael Gornik scrambled to be the first resident to drive over the road.
“We’ve been hiking in for months carrying everything we need back there to try to restore our property,” said Gornik. “So being able to drive in there and being able to take the garbage out is huge.”
“I don’t have to worry about only carrying in what I can carry on my back,” said Mark Clawson, sitting in his car. “It’s a big deal to be able to get out and in. If I wanted to have an ice-cream cone in Pāhoa, I could do it now.”
“I’ve been living in [the kipuka] for six months. Early on we were sling loading material and fuel then with the helicopter, and we got a stockpile of that, and then we’ve just been walking in and out periodically when we need to go out and get groceries.”
On Monday, there was lots of steam coming out of the road in certain areas, probably due to the rain from the night before, residents believed. “I’ve driven the road a few times,” Kaleikini said.
“For the first week, entry will be allowed between 8 a.m. and 11 a.m. in the morning and then between 4 p.m. and 7 p.m. in the evening. If you want to exit, you can exit at any time. After the first week, we’ll re-evaluate and reassess and make adjustments accordingly. Hopefully, we can expand it into more hours but we’ll see what happens.”
For now, residents are happy to return. There were plenty of hugs to go around on Monday.
“If I lived in there I’d be hugging all of you, too” said Kaleikini. “My impression is this is something that’s well worth us helping out to do, this road for our neighbors.
“It’s a blessing,” said Nancy Seifers, on her way home. “I thank Lono [Lyman], thank PGV.”
“This is not the answer, we know,” Seifers added. “This is really a blessing, but [Highway] 132 is the answer. Yeah? If we can do this, we can open 132.”