Hawaii family with local ties seeks safety in Utah

HILO, Hawaii – A family of nine is seeking safety in Utah as they run from the eruption of the Kilauea volcano.

The Gilmore family lives near Pahoa, about an hour’s drive from Hilo, and right in the path of Kilauea’s fury.

“As we drove in [to church in Hilo], we got stopped by a civil defense car that was going through there, going house to house warning people,” said Anna Gilmore, a native of Orem, through a video call on Facebook.

She says authorities are warning people to prepare for the worst.

“They are saying you don’t have to evacuate today, but get ready because it’s coming,” Gilmore said.

Right now, the Gilmores have access to just one road between their home and Hilo.

“On my drive here [to church] today, I found a new road closed so we only have one way out left,” Anna said.

The disaster is causing a huge financial burden on the family and Anna needs to get out so she can provide for her loved ones.

Anna’s husband is disabled and unable to work. She is trying to finish her education to become a midwife.

“I need to go back to Utah to do that,” Anna said. “I have a clinical placement.”

She will fly back to the mainland with her five youngest children next week to live with her mother in Orem, while her husband and two teenagers stay in Hawaii.

“We have no income so it’s a huge expense,” Anna said.

The Gilmore family’s struggle is not unlike many others on the island who live close to the volcano.

Anna says housing in the area is less expensive because of the lava threat, so many low-income families take the risk and live there because it’s affordable.

Those families are being affected the most.

“When something happens like a disaster, it does mean that it’s doubly difficult to deal with because we’re talking about a population of low resource people who’ve just been hit,” Anna said.

Anna says the tragedy isn’t breaking peoples’ resolve.

“There’s a beautiful feeling in the community,” she said. “We call it the spirit of Aloha. It’s like we are all in this together.”

While she doesn’t know what the future holds, she is relieved that soon, she’ll find sold ground in Utah.

“I would like to live somewhere where the mountains hold still,” Gilmore said.

The family has a GoFundMe page to help with their relocation expenses.