Hawaii lava evacuees grow weary as uncertainty drags on

In this Friday, May 18, 2018, photo, evacuee Steve Clapper tells his mother, Euteva Bukowiecki, to wear an oxygen tube at a shelter in Pahoa, Hawaii. Hawaii residents forced to evacuate their homes because of lava oozing from cracks in their neighborhoods are growing weary. Clapper and his mother have been staying at a shelter, and he wants to get her off the Big Island because it's not clear when the lava threat will end. (AP Photo/Jae C. Hong)
Lava erupts from fissures near Pahoa, Hawaii Saturday, May 19, 2018. Two fissures that opened up in a rural Hawaii community have merged to produce faster and more fluid lava. Scientists say the characteristics of lava oozing from fissures in the ground has changed significantly as new magma mixes with decades-old stored lava. (AP Photo/Jae C. Hong)
In this Friday, May 18, 2018, photo, evacuee Steve Clapper, 70, who has been sleeping in his SUV with two dogs, looks away during an interview with The Associated Press at a local shelter his mother is staying in Pahoa, Hawaii. Hawaii residents forced to evacuate their homes because of lava oozing from cracks in their neighborhoods are growing weary. Clapper and his 88-year-old mother have been staying at a shelter, and he wants to get her off the Big Island because it's not clear when the lava threat will end. (AP Photo/Jae C. Hong)
In this May 19, 2018 photo, lava erupts inside Leilani Estates near Pahoa, Hawaii. As lava flows have grown more vigorous in recent days, there's concern more homes may burn and more evacuations may be ordered. (Jamm Aquino/Honolulu Star-Advertiser via AP)
In this Saturday, May 19, 2018 photo, brothers Ed, left, and Mike Arends, who evacuated their homes in the Leilani Estates subdivision when lava started entering the area more than two weeks ago, sit outside Pele's Kitchen restaurant in Pahoa, Hawaii. The two hope they can someday return to their homes as the fatigue of being away from their homes takes a toll. (AP Photo/Caleb Jones)
In this Saturday, May 19, 2018 photo, Don Waguespack, who co-owns a small food market and coffee shop called Cajun Paradise Farms, walks on his property near Pahoa, Hawaii. Waguespack had to evacuate his farm when fast-moving lava was flowing directly toward his property. He is back on the farm now after the lava changed direction and says that being away was more stressful than being at home near the spattering lava. (AP Photo/Caleb Jones)
In this May 19, 2018 photo, lava erupts near a home inside Leilani Estates near Pahoa, Hawaii. As lava flows have grown more vigorous in recent days, there's concern more homes may burn and more evacuations may be ordered. (Jamm Aquino/Honolulu Star-Advertiser via AP)
In this Saturday, May 19, 2018 photo, Don Waguespack, who co-owns a small food market and coffee shop called Cajun Paradise Farms, talks with The Associated Press on his farm near Pahoa, Hawaii. Waguespack had to evacuate his farm when fast-moving lava was flowing directly toward his property. He is back on the farm now after the lava changed direction and says that being away was more stressful than being at home near the spattering lava. (AP Photo/Caleb Jones)
In this Saturday, May 19, 2018 photo, brothers Ed, left, and Mike Arends, who evacuated their homes in the Leilani Estates subdivision when lava started entering the area more than two weeks ago, sit outside Pele's Kitchen restaurant in Pahoa, Hawaii. The two hope they can someday return to their homes as the fatigue of being away from their homes takes a toll. (AP Photo/Caleb Jones)

PAHOA, Hawaii — Ed Arends grabbed what he could in the night and fled his 5-acre property, lava oozing from a crack in his neighborhood on Hawaii's Big Island.

That was more than two weeks ago. He hasn't been able to stay at his house since.

"It's disconcerting not being home, being displaced," Arends said. "I'm sleeping on a sofa in a guy's living room."

As uncertainty drags on over what the Kilauea volcano will do next, those who were forced to leave their homes weeks ago are growing weary.

More than 300 people were staying at three different shelters as of Saturday, Hawaii County mayor's spokeswoman Janet Snyder said. Some 2,000 people who live in the Leilani Estates neighborhood, including Arends, and nearby areas were still evacuated after a lava fissure opened May 3.

Officials ordered more people to evacuate Saturday when lava crossed a highway and flowed into the ocean, creating new health hazards. Lava has consumed more than 40 buildings.

Those who live in the remote, rural Puna district on the slopes of the Kilauea volcano know the lava risks. Leilani Estates sits in a zone that the U.S Geological Survey deems to have the highest risk of a lava flow.

Residents are allowed to return during the day to check on their homes. Some 25 miles (40 kilometers) away at the summit, there are intermittent explosions that send ash wafting over communities.

It's not known whether lava flows will keep advancing or stop, and new flows are likely.

Steve Clapper stood in the rain outside a shelter where he and his mother have been staying since evacuating Leilani Estates. He sleeps in his truck with his dogs while his mother sleeps inside the shelter.

The uncertainty has made Clapper want to get his 88-year-old mother, who has dementia and is on oxygen, off the island.

"We don't have any control over it, and this could go on for years," he said.

Don Waguespack, who co-owns Cajun Paradise Farms down a hill from where fissures have opened, evacuated to a small hotel room on the opposite side of the island.

"We evacuated to Kona and felt so helpless over there, I think it was worse mentally for us than being here," he said.

So Waguespack returned, relieved to find his home on his 10-acre property still standing.

Arends and his brother Mike Arends, who also evacuated from Leilani Estates, were grateful their houses were still safe.

"It's pretty early to tell what's going to happen, things change on almost a daily basis," Ed Arends said.

Yet living out of bags, not knowing where your toothbrush might be at a given moment, is tiring and stressful for the brothers.

"It's easy to go two or three days with it, but I think after two weeks, it grates on you a little bit," Mike Arends said. "You start to get weaker, you start to get more tired, you're not quite sleeping right, you're not eating right."

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