Big Islanders express faith, praying to Hawaii’s patron saint for safety

On the feast day of Hawaii’s patron Saint Damien of Molokai, Filipinos just outside the evacuation zone made sure to pray for those on Mount Kilauea’s path.

“It’s very important for us as the Catholic Church that we ask for the intercession of St. Damien. Today is his feast day and we are praying that God will intervene with the natural calamities especially those that are directly affected,” says Father Ernie Juarez.

Surrounded by emergency shelters, Sacred Heart Parish in Pahoa is less than 5 miles away from Leilani Estates, and home for many of the parishioners live in the area like Lea Nordloh.

“I saw the helicopters so I just evacuated when the truck came and the van camels and the sirens so I just picked up my kitty dog. That’s it. I left everything,” said Nordloh.

While some sleep inside and outside community center, Nordloh has been comfortable in her second house nearby. She’s been allowed to return to Leilani Estates to fetch a few items.

“I went home for the first time yesterday. I didn’t know. It’s okay, but I saw the lava.”

These concerns are normal for life in Pahoa.

The remnants of a 2014 eruption are still seen not far from the church, serving as a reminder of the dangers of home.

“It is really uncertain but if you have the faith to help people then you have to stay.”

According to USGS, no one can predict the next eruption. It might erupt any time and anywhere.

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