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October 2018

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After Volcanic Eruption on BigĀ Island, Hawaii
Members Power Tiny Houses

Residents displaced by an historic, months-long volcanic eruption have a safe place to stay thanks in part to members of Honolulu Local 1186.

On May 3, the Kilauea volcano, located in the Puna district of Hawaii's Big Island, started to erupt. Molten rock poured from multiple fissures. Ash spewed up to 30,000 feet in the air. The earth broke open, resulting in a 6.9 magnitude earthquake. And it just kept going. Dubbed a "slow-motion horror story" by In These Times, U.S. Geological Survey scientists still hadn't given the official word that the eruption was over by the end of August. For area residents, it has meant a tumultuous altering of the landscape amidst ongoing devastation. Over 600 homes have been destroyed and more than 2,000 residents were forced to evacuate.

Yet, the community has pulled together to help its neighbors, an effort that included constructing 20 micro-housing units, also known as tiny homes, for the displaced, beginning with seniors over age 60 and families with children under age 18.

"Local 1186 is here not only for our members but for the communities that surround us as well," said Business Manager Damien Kim. "We were only a small part of a very big collaborative effort from a group of companies, trades and individuals who had the same goal in mind, to get these homes up so the displaced residents had a little place of their own."

Twenty members joined approximately 200 volunteers to work on the 10-foot by 12-foot structures, as well as two offices and a pavilion. Members installed fixtures, switches and outlets. They also completed all underground splices, then turned on the power for the impromptu village.

The local provided transportation for members off-island, flying them to and from the island of Hawaii to assist with the project. Some Local 1186 members also made financial donations.

"We offered assistance in whatever way they needed it," Kim said of the one-day project. "Our members just wanted to help."

After a traditional Hawaiian blessing was performed, Kim said, evacuees moved in around the beginning of July.

The houses are on the property of Sacred Heart Church in Pahoa, just north of the disaster zone. When the evacuees move out, the church plans to use the units to house the homeless community, reported Hawaii News Now.

The tiny house work is one of many community service projects the local has participated in. When Tropical Storm Iselle hit in 2014, members delivered water and ice to the community of Puna, which was hit particularly hard by the storm. Kim expected that members of the IBEW community in Hawaii would respond similarly to Hurricane Lane, which battered the islands at the end of August.

"Local 1186 will always help in times of need, which is only possible because of the generosity of our members who willingly volunteer their time and labor," Kim said.



Members of Honolulu Local 1186 were among nearly 200 volunteers who helped build 20 tiny homes for residents displaced by the erupting Kilauea volcano earlier this year.